Into the Light
In the northern hemisphere, today is the winter solstice – the day when our part of the earth makes the turn back toward the light in its annual journey around the sun. From now until the summer solstice, each day will be longer and more light-filled than the one before.
Normally I love the short winter days, savoring the velvety darkness and the star-filled winter nights. But this year is different. This year, I have had enough of darkness. For weeks now, I have been buried in work, with the normal heavy grading load of a three-course semester compounded by the 200+ job applications for a faculty position in the interdisciplinary Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program that I helped to found. For six weeks, I was also denied my daily dose of light as a back problem prevented me from walking to work. And then came the darkness of the slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut.
The dark days of winter have long been accompanied by festivals of light. In the United States, it is a common practice for people to string multi-colored lights along the rooflines of their houses and around trees in their front yards. As I arrived in Poland, Maine earlier this week, on a miserably cold and rainy night and at the end of an exhausting 12-hour drive, I was greeted by the dazzle of holiday lights at houses along the back roads of my neighborhood. These gaudy displays brightened both the night and my spirits.
As the days begin to lengthen, I am looking forward to the lighter teaching load of the spring semester, to time outside enjoying the light, to time for blog writing and reading, and to the pleasures of the spring garden. This year, I have had enough of darkness; I am ready to move forward into the light.