These days the alarm goes off before the sun is up.
It feels like night. It feels like cold. It feels like time to sleep.
It definitely does not feel like time to get out of bed and get to work.
I really noticed it this morning. The switch to Standard Time just pushed it back a little, and only temporarily. I know it will get worse before it gets better.
Sure, it could be even more challenging. We could live above the Arctic Circle, where this seasonal darkness is more pronounced. But that doesn’t really lessen the challenge we face here. It just adds sadness for other people’s struggle to my own struggle.
This response to sunlight, or its absence, seems to be a human universal.
The human longing for sunlight is theoretically a factor in the celebration of “festivals of light” by almost all the world’s major religions, some time between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. E.g., Diwali, Chinese Autumn Festival, Chanukah, Advent.
People don’t have “festivals of light” in the spring and summer. They’re a fall-winter thing. Because this darkness is hard for us, and on us.
Some people interpret the presence of similar phenomena in different religions as evidence for the falsity of those religions. “See, other people are telling a different story from yours about the same thing. You can’t both be right, but you could both be wrong.”
I understand the logic, but it doesn’t fully convince me. To me, it seems to argue the opposite: everybody is sensing something important here, that’s hard to put into the variable words available to us, but that needs to be said as best we can:
We need light. And even in the face of deepening darkness, we can hang on to the conviction that darkness will not deepen forever, will not be the last word.
There is light that we can’t see yet. It is on its way.
Get ready for it.