Nature seems to side with darkness these days, curtailing the earth’s interaction with the sun until it culminates in the shortest day of the year, Thursday, December 21.
With each shortened day, we look for ways to bring light into the gloaming. We chase the dark with song and dance, and by gathering friends and families together.
As the Christian holiday of Christmas draws near, we balance precariously on rooftops to string lights, clamber up ladders to drape multicolored bulbs on trees that are otherwise a monochromatic shade of green. Candles glimmer in windows. Fireplaces glow with a radiance and warmth that says dark days will not dominate, that spirits will not be squelched. The candles on Hanukkah menorahs, celebrating the eight days of light, are aglow this week, as well.
The light of the world is sapped not only by nature’s predictable rhythm, though. Moral quandaries put us off balance at the national, state, local, and personal levels. We are haunted by memories, unbidden, unexpected, that stop us in our tracks. Tragic world events threaten to extinguish the bright moments of everyday living. Holding back that darkness is a difficult task, but one that we will not shirk.
In a world of dark deeds nurtured by hate, fear, and intolerance that cast shadows onto joyful occasions, we can choose to see beyond that darkness. We can take action to enlighten our world and we can speak up to see that right prevails over wrong. There is an awareness that beyond gloomy headlines lies a world of brilliance.
Newtown can be proud to be a place that generates a lightness of heart and soul. Holiday baskets and fundraisers for the neighbor in need, donations to the food pantries, volunteers who offer free rides to medical appointments and deliver meals to shut-ins brighten lives year around.
When disaster strikes other communities, Newtown residents respond, with no effort too small, no challenge too big. We know what it means to be recipients of tenderness when the skin of a town is laid open, and scabs regularly ripped off. There is a light of kindness that shines far beyond our borders.
The winter solstice is just one moment in time, immediately followed by the increased infusion of light into each passing day, for the next six months. It is a world of darkness as winter settles about us, but we celebrate the knowledge that more so, it is a world in which people carry the torch of love that lights the way.