Every year at the end of Daylight Saving Time, I am shocked at the darkness. I have little kids, so I’m also annoyed for a week or two. They are confused and disoriented. Their sleeping and eating schedules are a bit messed up, and so is mine.
What I find interesting is how we are suddenly more aware of the light (or the lack thereof). When we wake up and it’s still dark, my three-year-old asks, “Is it morning time?” The light bounces through our windows a bit differently these days; it creates interesting shadows as it passes though the falling leaves, and now we are required to turn on a few more lamps than we used to.
The darkness creeps in a bit more every day. I’m slowly experiencing more night than I am day. I put on more sweaters; I pile on more blankets; I burrow in with my family. I can see my neighbors doing the same. There are fewer kids outside in the yard or scootering around on the sidewalk. Dog owners are rushing their evening walks to get home before it is completely dark. The light is fading, and I can’t make out people’s faces anymore. There is less lingering. Where I live, the cold is also encroaching. This quickens my pace as we move through our neighborhood.
I have realized that by December my skin begins to itch for more sunshine. My eyes become desperate for the morning light and not just the pink sunsets I see as I drive home from work. I can feel my body yearning for the winter solstice. I sense my whole self reaching for the reconciliation of time and light. My kids are eagerly counting down the days before Christmas and the presents under the tree, but I am counting down to the time when the sun will return.
I know that it is a temptation for me to want to rush through the darkness to get to the light. I love the day; I love the sunshine; I love the warmth. But I know that darkness is important, too. I know the earth needs to rest and reset. I know that life is a series of cycles and rhythms. I know that I need to engage with the darkness and see the goodness and beauty that awaits me there. The darkness invites me to turn inward and face myself—to do my own resting and resetting. It would be easier for me to think that all darkness is bad and all sunshine is good, but the reality is life is more complicated than that. Sometimes growth comes in the nighttime, just as sometimes the sunshine can burn you.
The fading light makes me pump the brakes a bit. It forces me to evaluate, shift, and change. I am not in control of the sun and the moon. I have no say in the turning of the earth. I cannot make the frost and wind recede. In the meantime, I try to regain some control and center myself to the movements of the heavens and how those affect all that is around me. I pull out decorations; I add more twinkling lights and candles; I start cooking more soups, and I take longer warm baths. I wait for light to return.