Recently I had to be somewhere very early in the morning. Since I am not fit for human company without my daily walk and latte, I set out on foot before the pitch-black December sky had begun to gray around the edges.
My route took me through a neighborhood where all the households join together during the holidays to hang enormous shiny balls from the trees lining both sides of the street. I could see nothing, except for slivers of silver on each orb, reflecting the dim light from the lone street lamp at the end of the street. I continued on to my favorite café, its bright interior and friendly staff another beacon piercing the dark.
Fortified by my latte and the subtly glowing branches, I headed home to join the early stream of rush hour traffic.
I needed to be out and about before dawn to take my new friend Marcy to chemotherapy. Marcy was given a diagnosis of Stage 4 ovarian cancer and six months to live. That was four and a half years ago, time she has spent traveling all over the country seeking out cutting-edge treatment and clinical trials. These efforts have kept death at bay, but now the cancer is starting to break through even in the midst of grueling regimens.
These are dark times, for Marcy and for a world riddled with problems of such magnitude that sometimes the only way to cope is to withdraw. The season of solstice reflects this. Light is in short supply, and so, at times, is hope. The urge to pull inward is strong.
Yet even though Marcy may be running out of options, her spirit and will to live are strong. So it is in the world as well–joy and kindness abound, relieving despair. As we pass through the darkest time of the year, there are always shimmers of light.