To Love the Cold and Dark
It is about to get cold and dark.
Here in Alberta I mean the weather.
But beyond that also…
Many emotional winters are falling.
It is night in America.
There is hostility in the elements,
And we are all in need of more warmth and light.
I want to share with you why and how we manage to find a love
for the cold and dark.
How we can thrive in the bleakest of elements.
Little things, like:
How we find joy in the 7:30 a.m. wake-up-for-school blackness —
(One of our little miracles)
how we might collectively take heart in the bigger, uglier storm.
Unless you are one of those people who love winter
you may be getting those ‘pangs’…..
of displacement —
like a leg bone — broken.
Longing for home.
Like a bone —
feeling sorry for itself.
as gritted teeth
as the cold sets in.
We will wake up to pitch black,
and that which was merely tedious will become gruelling.
There is a hidden festival of warmth and light that no one told you about…
Waldorf families know that between the clearance shelves of Halloween
and the all-too-soon merchandising of everything Christmas
there is a nourishing inbreath known as Martinmas.
On November 11th, or any time throughout the month, you might catch sight of a parade of light.
Lanterns are lit and songs are sung to store up ethereal warmth and strength for winter.
We need this heartening moment.
Just as our hands seek and hold the warming gift of the glass lantern, our hearts need this tender glow..
the glow of many lights, together.
We need this active sparking of hope;
this planting of the flame-seed.
We take in
the winking red embers
of autumn’s last breath.
To tend the hearth
of our own heart.
Here are some ways we bring warmth and light
into our home at this time…..
Simple glass jar lanterns are my favourite, but there are so many to try out.
For truly beautiful ideas just do a google search on “waldorf martinmas lanterns.”
We make new ones each year and I save them all in the basement.
When the darkness creeps in —
whether it’s the early nightfall of daylight savings time,
or a surge of crankiness inside the home…
It is the perfect time to pull out the lanterns
and signify the victory of light.
I fill the house with them
and soon the children’s hearts mirror their soft, warm glow.
My 10 year old set up her little toys around these “walls of light” and began to play.
Whether or not we are able to go to the school Lantern Walk,
we do our own walk down the sidewalk…
The sense of wonder that accompanies mealtime is palpable as they become our centrepieces.
We hang them outside our front window until Christmas
and I come to love the dark.
For it is the dark that gives us the gift
This is one of the magic wands in our lives.
Ever since the first day of grade 1 the kids have risen willingly to face the dawn.
I marvel at it myself, but they never beg for more time in bed.
They discovered The Heat.
The hot air that breathes hope from the floor register each winter morning.
Every single day after breakfast they run to the Heat,
each in turn.
5 more delicious minutes of roasting their toes
and closing their eyes,
and they are ready to face the day.
So many hassles can be melted away with a bit of warmth or light.
A hot bath,
a warm hug,
a cup of tea,
hot water bottle,
a single ray of sunshine.
Another family secret….
Mmmmmmm, I love the hot crispy dry embrace of our family’s clothes all intermingled in one happy load!
I love filling my arms with it the minute the dryer dings.
“Hot Laundry!!!” I shout, and they all come running.
They jump and tumble around with the warm clothes on the bed.
We all do the sorting together amidst much laughter.
This is how we approach our chores — I am generous with these little nuances.
Adding measures of warmth and light are like “spoonfuls of sugar” that help the medicine go down.
Rituals in themselves have a heart-warming effect.
Small daily gestures strengthen and lighten the family atmosphere.
And in the political climate now…
there is also a sense of stark, unwelcome winter.
It is time for deliberate warming acts.
Lanterns lit daily — warm, kind eyes and generous hearts.
Heat kindled in unexpected places — the little havens of comfort we can offer one another.
Small daily gestures of peace.