The darkest day
The thing about living in a small community is the way in which you are fully seen. I remember the painful vulnerability of this; the desire to cloak myself in the darkness of anonymity to hide the messy growth into my full self at least partly the reason for fleeing my small island for this one.
But now here I am, warm with relief at the light of others shining into the corners of being that I cannot always see. My child falls in the playground, another scoops them up and brings them to me. They run ahead of me along the pavement, disappear from sight around the corner, I hear others cautioning them to mind the road. Something precious is sought that I cannot provide, another willingly lends it. I see the fabric of relationships longer woven into this place come together to hold others in sickness and in loss. The love shines brightly. But how painful it is to be held at arm’s length; how vulnerable we look in the light of a screen in the darkness of pain and grief.
The village turns itself into a living advent calendar, a new window illuminated each night, the heart shining more brightly in communal effort to keep every evening’s advance into midwinter’s darkness at bay. I plan something candlelit and serene, a new friend who has seen me in the gasping vulnerability of sweaty, stumbling attempts to return to health raises a questioning eyebrow. I laugh; I have been seen. A tropical carnival display takes its place, true colour shining through.
The world grows ever darker regardless. To fend off the gloom within, I return to the dismal garden, forage evergreens to brighten our solstice home. As I rest my gaze on this place, pause to draw in its breath, my eyes are opened to the promise shining there. The scent of witch hazel revives me, the bulbs begin to show themselves, whispering of spring. In living through the darkest day, our faces are raised once more towards the light.
The children light me up with their unbridled enthusiasm for Christmas. They write cards for our neighbour & I let them run through the field on their own to deliver them to her. Shortly after they disappear from sight I hear the cockerel call to announce their arrival. We are held in community here & the holding is more than human. I let myself sink into the valley's spiralling embrace & I know that one day we shall hold one another again.