The Promise of Dawn
The nights are getting longer on the Canadian prairies. Lately as I sit on the sofa with my wife, enjoying her quiet presence and a cup of fresh morning coffee, we look out our window at the darkness. It isn’t that we are getting up earlier than normal, but rather the sun has taken to rising later and later. This retreat of light will deepen for another month here on the prairies north of the 49th parallel that separates Canada from the United States of America.
And it isn’t simply longer nights, it is a descent into cold that is deadly if not respected. It was minus sixteen Celsius when we woke up. For my American readers, that’s three degrees Fahrenheit, and that doesn’t take into consideration wind chill.
The circumambulation around the sun that divides day from night as well as dividing the year into seasons talks to me about hope. I can see forward to a renewal of life force with the coming of spring, knowing that there is a pathway out of the darkness of winter. That hope allows me to be present in the darkness of winter and appreciate the gifts that come from winter’s darkness. Of course, the physical flow of seasons matches the psychological flow within each of us.
“It is in the swamplands where soul is fashioned and forged, where we encounter not only the gravitas of life, but its purpose, its dignity and its deepest meaning.” [Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul, p. 9]
Thinking about what Hollis tells me, tells us, I get to understand that there is value in darkness, in the shifting of seasons that forces us to grow, to adapt to the changing faces of our lives. Imagine a life without challenges. What would it truly be like to have every day as a sunny and warm day without challenges to our strengths and weaknesses? How would we ever discover our limits and our depths? We would remain shallow and superficial people. Personally, it has been the hard times, the dark times that have taught me who I am beneath the superficial persona, beneath the layer of myself that is my ego.
Such are my thoughts on this dark and cold prairie morning.