Putting the brave face on the darkness of November

There’s a welcome inherent in us for the bright lights of winter. A place in our souls for the gaily coloured lamination that heralds the impending season. It is just a few weeks since that the dark curtain of winter darkness has fallen upon us.

It changes the way we do things; shapes our days and our nights. But more importantly, it impacts on our minds; our ability to see things with perspective and hope.

Maybe it’s my time of life, but I think this has been an incrediubly sad year, not helped by the events of the last few weeks which have seen us lose faith in the goodness of humanity as we watch the barbarism of war on our screens. We are assailed by bad and sad news on all sides. Deaths, illness, inhumanity, yet we are forced to go on in the face of it all, to brazen it out. And it’s bloody hard. Don’t be afraid to admit this.

This has been a year that started with a lot of tragedy and sadness and has continued throughout. Families, friends, towns and villages each have their own sad stories. Each of us could sit down right now and recall a dozen.

In each of our communities too, there is a pain in the stomach of us all; an empty seat at tables; a bed not slept in, constant reminders of people who should be here, but are not. There is loneliness and poverty and fear.

It has been a time of carnage on our roads; as if we have gone back to the days before cars were made safe and seatbelts were not compulsory. Galway, in particular, has suffered badly. The onslaught of bad news has created a world in which many people lose hope in the face of such bleakness.

And this is where we need the light. The lights of the Christmas Market will go on tomorrow night in Eyre Square and over the next few weeks in the streets of the town and villages across the city and county. And in our own homes too.

We need to use the light to lift us all; to see wonder in the illuminated darkness; as we cling on to the hope in the face of sadness.

None of this is aided by the sudden onset of darkness once the clocks change for the winter; a blind pulled down on all of our psyches.

It is into this time that we need light; not just the physical light, but light that warms and coaxes and urges us to believe and retain hope in the potential for the goodness of us all.

This weather and time of year makes people struggle; it robs people of lifelines, of being able to see through, of connection.

It is at this time that we need the bright colourful lights of the festive season. Let the naysayers not convince you that we endure the darkness until a decreed time. I have a wonderfully generous neighbour who lights her home with the most exhilirating display of light you can imagine. Every time I pass by, I silently thank her for lifting us all by throwing colour and hope and movement into this dark time of the year.

Light is but an element though. Accompany this light with a word of encouragement, a greeting, a how-are-ya, a sign that you care. Don’t be alone in thinking that this is a hard time of the year.

By lighting the way for each other, it will be no time until the days start to get longer again and the boost of Spring will not be far behind. Let us make sure that we all make it through to that platform of hope.


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