Quick Takes: Dealing With the Darkness

A roundup of my thoughts on this winter season.

It’s no accident that our holiday season comes at about the same time as the winter solstice. Ancient traditions developed long ago to mark the shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. I joke sometimes about living in the tundra—and the temperatures here in Minnesota are about to turn brutal. But it is the lack of light that marks this season for me, even more than the frigid air. Right now we’re getting about 17 hours of darkness every day. At some point, you just have to figure out how to deal with it.

There are, of course, parallels with the darkness that has overtaken our politics in this season of Trump. We’re all in the process of trying to figure out how to deal with that. For those of you who are struggling with either the literal or figurative darkness, I offer you this poem from David Whyte.

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.


I’d like to remind you that we are still in the midst of our holiday fundraising drive here at the Washington Monthly. If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation of whatever amount you can. Your support keeps the lights on (both literally and figuratively) in these dark days.

Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us here at the Washington Monthly! God only knows what we’d be without you.

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