Season of Darkness

"Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing"- Steve Bannon from an interview with the Hollywood Reporter

We've been living in the Pacific Northwest for almost two years now. In that time, I've become well acquainted with shades of grey I never knew existed. In the winter we seem to live in a perpetual half-light that makes it hard for your body to discern whether you've just woken up or whether you should be crawling into bed.

Last year one of my middle sons attended a Waldorf preschool in the city. One of the events my family enjoyed the most was the Winter Spiral. It's a ceremony held in complete darkness-- at a time when we find ourselves traveling into the darkest days of the year. 

Stillness envelops the earth as plants lay dormant and many animals begin their long winters' sleep. A candle is lit in the darkness. One by one the children light their candles and place them along the spiral's winding path. The ceremony symbolizes the introspection and quiet that the season can bring: if we will let it. 

This season of life has been tough for me as a mother. I've got four little ones six years old and under. Little children are time consuming and needy. They need loads of affection, discipline, guidance, and consistency. More than anything motherhood has shown me that I am not the mother (or the woman) that I want to be. 

In many ways I'm struggling in the darkness. I'm struggling somewhere between my high ideals and the reality of my life. I'm living here in the twilight of mind numbing tantrums, repetitive tasks--the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry-- that must be done to keep life moving, and the loneliness that comes from moving so frequently.  The days run together and the months run into one another.   I seem to lose track.

I agree with Mr. Bannon. Darkness is good but not like Darth Vader or Satan. I want my darkness like Jesus who grappled with the thought of death for the sake of others in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked his Father to take the cup of death from him, but in the same breath he submitted. He submitted not out of blind duty, but out of love.  "Not my will but yours be done."

I want my darkness like the children of Israel who spent four hundred years in slavery. In that time of oppression, they multiplied. They came into Egypt a family with twelve sons and left as a nation with twelve tribes. 

I want my darkness like the dark night of my ancestors--the African slaves who came to this country stripped of all dignity, all family, all possessions. They adopted the faith of masters who beat them and exploited them for wealth. They held fast to the promised deliverance they found in the pages of the Bible, even as they toiled with no relief in sight.

With such a great cloud of witnesses I can only say that this season of darkness is fleeting. The thing about darkness is that it's seasonal. The season may last longer than I would prefer, but it can't last forever. Here in the season of Advent, the season of waiting as we approach the Winter Solstice, a celebration of the retreating of the darkness, let’s remember that what now appears dead will someday be brimming with life.