Wisdom isn’t inherent in our darkest days, but these days are our clearest path to it.
Perhaps it’s only in the darkness, or at least in the rationing of light, that we can come to appreciate it. Appreciate what it does for us. Appreciate what it makes of us. Appreciate what we are in it.
Recognize what it does to others, what they do to it. Who creates it? Who consumes it?
The darkness asks us different questions than the light.
What does it feel like to be cold? To stay ever damp, the light never coming to dry or to offer warm reprieve? The cold and damp merging and wrapping us and dissolving us?
What does it mean to be starved for light? To believe ourselves to be desperate and in need but still knowing the sun will proceed with its plan? No control. Fewer hours. Shorter days.
How does gray feel? What are we supposed to do with it? It is a thing, this grayness. It cannot be ignored or explained with - or in contrast to - other colors. We must own it for what it is.
What happens when life skins us of our perceived beauty, or our defenses, the leaves that sway and flicker and distract with their color and charm? What’s left? We are merely who we are. What do we do with that?
What happens when we feel our bones? The deep ache of brokenness? That dull, radiating sense of being lost, exposed? Bare.
These are not questions of death or desperation or darkness. This is life. This is winter.
In winter, it is our ability to see what is, not what was, or what could be, or what should be that lets the light break through. The warmth. The growth.
In the dark and barren and broken and matter-of-fact of the season, we may see more honestly the layers and cycles and phases of light, of life, of death, of time, of distance, of our place in it all.
This is the brutal wisdom of winter.