As families gather to celebrate another year gone by and prepare for the next, the Long Night signals a time to mourn our accumulated pains and privations. In the dark we expel our grief lest it smother us and corrupt the new year.
What if our losses were greater than any in recent memory? What if the pain we feel seems endless?
2017 arrived under a cloud of dread and hatred that illuminated deep divisions, prejudice and mistrust. As the months passed it grew worse until even hope for a positive turn of events seemed a fool’s rose-tinted glasses.
Hurricanes ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and more, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
The deadliest mass shooting in modern US history perforated the soul of America, leaving many to wonder if this carnage will ever end.
Wildfires torched Santa Rosa, leaving crooked chimneys clawing from the ashes and nothing else.
Throughout all of it the living have wept while the dead line the streets.
The Longest Night is not meant to define us, the darkness is meant to absorb our grief to prevent a year of lamentation. Above all else it’s a time to remember those who pass from this world, an event Algernon Charles Swinburne wrote of centuries ago:
“Before the beginning of years
There came to the making of man
Time, with a gift of tears;
Grief, with a glass that ran;
Pleasure with pain for leaven
Summer with flowers that fell;
Remembrance fallen from heaven,
And madness risen from hell;
Strength without hands to smite;
Love that endures for a breath;
Night, the shadow of light,
And life, the shadow of death.”