A Box Full of Darkness

  Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.

               It took me years to understand, that this, too, was a gift.

–Mary Oliver

For me, this season is about the light–the movement of light, how it goes and comes, reliably. For millennia, we humans have known this rhythm in our bones and blood. We’ve seen and felt how what happens on earth is tied into what happens in the sky. We’ve made stories, calendars and monuments out of this relationship. And at this time of year, we mark it and celebrate it, especially now, since the Winter Solstice is about darkness and light, at least in the part of the world where I live.

For decades now, I have put my Menorah in the window to add my light to the world. I have not missed a Solstice Celebration, whether it involves invoking the Great Goddess or listening to my friend the naturalist explain solstice with a flashlight and an orange as the earth. In either case, it’s a gathering of people who share our collective and conscious participation in how the world goes.

So around this time of year, I take part in the wonder. Just as sure as I can feel the pull of gravity, I can feel the movement of an underground river. It asks me to enter the darkest days with a feeling of expectancy. Not only will the light return, but the darkness itself is pregnant. You never know what delight will show up.

For instance, this year I decided I was too busy to put up a tree. But magic happens, so I ended up with a winter landscape in my living room (photo above). The Spirit of the Woods even moves, as do the lights under the snow.

I want to give you a gift, dear reader. Here it is, another poem by the poet who speaks my soul language.


by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.


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