• Emily

Light, Even on the Darkest Day

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

sunset over the ridge

With every year, our lives become more tied to the land. Like the plants and animals of this place, we are affected by the changing seasons, the cold, the darkness, the first icy breath of winter. Approaching winter solstice, we feel within ourselves the same urge for dormancy that the creation around us displays. The animals are biding their time, resting through the cold dark days. Even in the greenhouse, the plants are on hold, waiting for longer daylight hours to resume. Together we long for spring, life, and growth. We long for the renewal of the light.

One day before the darkest day of the year, Kindra and I hiked to the highest points of the property, looking across a landscape beautiful in its barrenness. The grasses, bleached out by the heat of summer, were falling over under their own weight. The gnarled frames of sagebrush stood out against a sea of brown and gray. The ridge was frosted with a dusting of snow, outlining each valley and making the dark pines stand out in stark contrast. We made the most of what remained of the day’s light and warmth, turning our steps toward the sunset to catch the last rays. A thick bank of clouds rising at the top of the valley would soon extinguish what was left of the day. As the sun slipped behind the clouds we stopped to stare at the sky; instead of the expected darkness, we saw a burning diffusion of light. The angling glances of sunlight ignited the clouds, growing brighter and brighter until the glow spread across the slope in front of us. Had we stayed in, hiding from the darkness, we would have missed this gift of brilliance.

Victor Hugo wrote, “The pupil is dilated at night and eventually finds daylight in it, in the same way as the soul is dilated in misfortune, and eventually finds God in it.” (Les Miserables, Ch. 252) If we would see the sunset, we must be willing to walk out on the darkest days. If we would know the rebirth of spring, we must go through the death of winter first. If we would see the invisible hand of Providence leading us beside still waters, we mustn’t fear the Valley of the Shadow.

Spring will come and, with it, new growth. In the meantime, we have to trust that willing eyes will find the light, even on the darkest day.


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