Heartlights of Hope in the Darkness

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Marshmallows toasted over a roaring bonfire

Where does your glow come from?

We are now engulfed in the heart of winter.  The holiday season is winding down and the coldest days of the season are still before us. No matter where we live, the dark hours of the night still seem much longer than those of daylight.  What makes this season of cold and dark bearable for you?  How do you satisfy your longing for warmth and light?

We need the shadow play of dark and light that winter brings.  Only on the darkest nights do the lights on trees, bushes, yards and porches shine brighter.  The darkness commands us to slow down, bundle up, and face the blustery side of nature.  The time we spend inside gives us the opportunity to think about what we want to make happen in the new calendar year. The longer shadows help us focus our thoughts toward our center.  The light of candles is softer than electric illumination, and fits the reflective mood of the winter months.  One of the first things I do each day in December is to plug in the lights of our Christmas tree. As evening approaches, I light candles on safe surfaces.  The play of shadow and light that they create invites us into a spirit of mystery and anticipation.

Bonfires and Holiday Lights

I am fortunate to live in Central Massachusetts.  I live in an intentional community full of neighbors who love to gather around the hearth.  When the night sky is crisp and clear with starlight, we sometimes stoke bonfires in the bowl pit and roast marshmallows.  Neighbors also string lights on their porches and doors in anticipation of the holiday season.  Those lights bring cheer and inspire me to spend more time walking around outside before I curl up under a pile of blankets inside.

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Neighbor’s door decorated for the holidays

Walking around our co-housing village this time of year is a magical time. My daily goal of 10,000 steps is more easily realized while walking the footpaths close to home.  I often greet neighbors who are also walking about and wave to children playing.  At dusk, the lights strung on porches and in doorways begin to sparkle brightly against the approaching nightfall.  They are beacons of hope and warmth when the wind picks up and the chill begins to freeze my limbs.  Yet, there are also fields nearby to step away into the darkness and appreciate the starlight of the winter constellations.

When I walk, my first destination is usually our community labyrinth on the other end of our village.  It is a wonder-filled place to walk and reflect.  It’s Baltic Wheel design and natural setting inspires moments of stillness and appreciation for nature’s wisdom.  The deep, dark colors of our conifers stand out as snow laces their branches and shrouds the earth around their roots.

snowy-labyrinth

Winter Garden Wonder

Another place quite close to us that we love to visit is Tower Hill Botanical Garden.  It was established in 1986 by the Worcester Horticultural Society and hosts a wide variety of programs for members and guests to forge a deeper kinship with nature.  The garden is a magical place all year round, in all seasons, but especially when it is lit up with many lights during the site’s Winter Re-Imagined festival.  Their outside and inside exhibits delight visitors of all ages.  I spent 2 evenings this month volunteering there and plan to return soon.

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Courtyard lit up during Winter Re-Imagined at Tower Hill Botanical Garden, Boylston, MA

Happy New Year

May all of your days in 2017 be filled with love, hope, and cheer.  May the warmth of holiday lights remind you that you are not alone, that no matter where you are you are thought of fondly.  May the spring bring warmer days to accomplish outside tasks and the summer shine on an abundant garden harvest.  May all of your dearest dreams come true!

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