Seeing in the Dark

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It is said that when Druids were in training they would spend hours at a time in stone beehive huts, utterly in the dark, so as to be able to memorize the enormous body of knowledge their culture held. Nothing was written down. Everything was kept, a living, organic thing, in the minds of trained knowledge keepers.

Happily, because I love books and writing and paper and reading, I don’t need to yearn for that training – but I can learn from it.

We are in the dark season, when lights come on at 4:30 in the afternoon and in the pitch dark of the town people have put up lights on their houses. They outline the trees to remind us that the trees are there. They frame the doors as a sign of hospitality. They multiply in the window panes. They are an instinctive response to a darkening world in which we, as primal beings, still fear that the sun will not return.

This is the storytelling season and the story-reading season, because now we do have books. But from the Druids we can learn to make the most of the darkness, to let ourselves grow calm, to rest, allowing our seeds to lie dormant and gather strength for the next growing season.

Maybe Eleanor Roosevelt said it, or maybe Confucius, or maybe many other people to whom the quote is attributed, or maybe it is just true:

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

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