As mammals, we instinctively face the cold dark by simultaneously conserving and sharing. By turning inside and reaching out. Like foxes and bears and squirrels, we stay put in nature’s darkest hour. We move inward. We shelter. We become quiet. We burrow into memory and reflection: prayer, the lighting of candles, rituals of silence and observation. And we also gather. Like penguins, who press themselves into a circle of contiguous heartbeats to counter the arctic night, we too draw our bodies nearer to others’ at this time of year: congregations of singing and sermon, feasts with family and friends, long snuggles under blankets and bedclothes… This pirouette from dark to light, from what hurts to what heals, is, I believe, the condition of gratitude: a deeply human, perhaps deeply animal, confrontation of our own fragility and mortality coupled with the recognition of our potential for tenderness, healing, and love.Read More
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