Living as we do at the extreme edge of the Eastern Standard Time Zone is to experience wide swings of daylight; in July barbecues can last until after 8 pm, and now, in December, at 4 pm, we are ready to put on our pajamas for the evening, even if we are still at work.
And so, we compensate, with electric lights to illuminate the darkness.
In Advent, a poem from M.W. MacKay’s collection, Hope runs through it, acknowledges this collective longing for more light, and wonders about how we try to make up for the lack of illumination.
I hunger for light.
Not the junk-food bright
glare that blazes from malls
and screams back the dark
with extended Holiday hours.
She goes on to ask whether all this over-brightness is somehow missing the point, that maybe we need less outward light in order to foster inner illumination.
She finishes the poem by asking for another kind of light:
… the soft, silent flicker
of a single candle
a kiss of light
to caress the dark
a breath of peace
to soothe black despair
a whisper of hope
to feed my soul
and show me the way.
This point of view, the one that reminds the reader that life is a great mystery, and that we need to be aware of how we nourish ourselves, is representative of the entire collection. MacKay, who writes about the particular pains and joys of raising a child with special needs, has the ability to look around and ask questions that resonate with a wider audience as well.
And, sometimes, at this time of year, it’s nice to be reminded that it’s OK to sit in the dark.
Hope runs through it is available at The Spirit of ’76 in Vinnin Square, and on-line.