I am one of those people who is sensitive to the lengthening and shortening of days. From the end of September on, the decrease in light works on my heart and soul, dampening my spirits and hibernating my hope. People say that the holidays make them sad. I think this is inherently untrue: The sadness comes from the darkness.
Darkness comes in many forms, of course. The loss of natural light just allow the shadows that live within us to become more obvious, to take on the appearance of weight and form and substance that would be made ridiculous in the brighter light of spring. The internal quiet that falls with the migration of the birds and the whisper of the snow shrouds and ensnares heavy thoughts that would dissipate like mist in a warmer sun.
The tradition of burning a Yule log for twenty-four hours on this day makes perfect sense to me. If we can keep the darkness at bay on the longest, darkest night of the year we will triumph over the cold and darkness of the coming winter, right? Celebrating with light to fight the darkness is symbolic of everything that Christmas is.
Starting today, the light is growing. Hope is coming. Emmanuel.