In the Still of the Light

Heather’s had a lot of brilliant ideas in our marriage. This one happened to be literal.

Which is why, after 22+ years of talking about it, we’ve finally put up window lights.

Sure, Christmas was two and a half months ago. So what? These happen to be springtime lights, in pastel-pink and green. After all, March and April still have their share of cold dark nights in Colorado, and a string of lights shines just as brightly against near-certain springtime snow as it does against a semi-mythical “White Christmas.”

Besides, it’s not like we don’t have company. Drive around Longmont for half an hour or so, and you’ll still find enough dazzling domiciles to make a pretty good light run. Maybe not the outright Walt Disney Apocalypse extravaganzas (“Mad Max 13: It’s A Small World After All”), but at this time of year, even the simplest display stands out.

But it’s not about showing off. Not really. Speaking for ourselves – and possibly for many others – these winter-ish lights are born of a very spring-like impulse.

Impatience.

It’s not the sort of thing that goes on a greeting card. But it’s true nonetheless.

Why else would we rob ourselves of an hour of sleep for eight months every year?

If you’re a longtime reader of this column, you know I’m not a daylight saving fan. Part of it is because I genuinely love the nighttime – early sunlight gets me going when I need to, but a delayed sunset steals something special. Part of it is because, like many people these days, I see the time-jumping as outright ridiculous and would just as soon “lock the clock.”

It’s been argued on grounds of ecology, economy, Founding Father wisdom and more, and none of it holds up. (Ben Franklin’s famous piece on it, for the record, was a satire.) It’s not even all that necessary – left to itself, light extends into the evening as spring and summer roll on, anyway, without disrupting the suppertime of confused pets.

But a lot of us get impatient. We want the light now. Even if it means wearing ourselves out a little to get it.

I think that’s a sentiment that a lot of us can empathize with now, as we complete our first pandemic year.

We’ve been walking in the dark for a lot longer than four months. We’ve had stress and strain on every side as we try to last just a little longer, to adapt and constrain our lives until we’re sure we’re in the clear.

It’s hard. Absolutely. And every so often, there’s a temptation to jump the gun and declare “We’re ready NOW.” We know better – we’ve seen the results – but it still happens.

But it’s also a time when we share light.

In a hundred different ways, a thousand, we’ve pushed back against the darkness. From the smallest acts of consideration to the greatest acts of generosity, so many of us have kindled a light for others to see.

To the choir teacher who finds ways to share a collective joy of music online rather than let voices go silent … we see you.

To the neighbor making a necessary trip for someone who can’t safely do it themselves … we see you.

To everyone who’s been holding a family together in a time of stress beyond belief … we see you.

To you and many more besides … you are the ones who inspire joy. Who light hope. Spirits like yours are what will help us reach the other side, and will make it a place worth reaching.

We’re all impatient for the light. Let’s find the best ways to share it, the ones that make a brighter world for all of us.

And if it’s lit in pastel colors – so much the better.  

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