Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

The Blessings of Darkness

I received a lovely Christmas gift this year, an Advent Calendar with daily messages from Joy Zimmerman. While they all have been delightful, the poem she read on December 21st, the winter solstice, blossomed into something unexpected.

Having completed my “blank canvas” challenge for 2022, I have been wandering through my neural pathways, seeking what to tackle in 2023. At the forefront is my new status as not really retired,  just shifting gears. Listening to this reading about darkness jiggled something loose and the next evening, as I sat in my sun room surrounded on 3 sides with tall windows, I began to think about the blessings of darkness.

My home does not tout major Christmas décor, but I do place 4 plastic single candles in the 4 front sun room windows. Sitting quietly in the dark, I took in the house across the street whose geometric shape was outlined by tiny white lights. It was as if they exploded out from the velvety darkness around them. I could almost hear them crackling. Bringing my gaze and thoughts closer, I noticed how my 4 little bulbs of light loomed bright against the rich darkness of night. Their reflections in the window multiplying their splashes of light like sparklers.

While we celebrate the glory of light, we often fail to recognize that this dazzling brilliance occurs only against the dark. During the day, lights and stars are overshadowed by the sun and reach their full potential only when the dark provides a background off which they can ignite into spectacular whiteness.

I have a clear memory of standing out in my backyard, years ago, on a wintry night, looking up at the stars while my dog wandered around, enjoying the out of doors. To this day I remember the sensation of being enfolded, blanketed safely by the darkness, mesmerized by the tiny sparkles of light in the deep dark sky. The other evening, I attempted to repeat this experience. Only 6:30pm, the skies said night, and after checking for my mail, I paused on my porch step, breathing in the balmy night, feeling the breeze whip through my not quite warm enough sweater, and letting my body and mind take in the pinpricks of light on houses up and down the block, twinkling out of the almost black sky, like a silent shout. I vow to do this more often.

I think darkness gets a bad rap. It continues to conjure up connections to evil, secrecy, and terror, but this next new year I am going to “set out on the road (I) cannot see”, with the confidence that in the dark, the light to my destination will shine even more brightly.

(Barbara Brown Taylor)

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