December is the darkest month of the year in Canada. Where I live, it starts getting dark at about 4:00 in the afternoon. It can be depressing and discouraging. A doctor friend of my joked that this time of year, we should put anti-depressants in the water like some cities put flouride in the water.
On a more serious note, this is a very difficult time of the year for those who are struggling with difficult family situations. Every place we turn we hear messages about happy families gathering together. But what if your partner is abusive to you and hurts you at every turn? What if your ex-partner keeps dragging you into court over every little thing so that your sense of sanity feels threatened? What if your ex-partner works hard every day to alienate your children from you and your children have told you they do not want to see you at Christmas? These are the realities of the women I work with. Dark days.
How do we survive in these dark days? The only way I know to survive such darkness is to resist it. We do not let the darkness win. We seek light. We are light, when we can be, and we say “no” to hate, oppression and abuse. To me, this in an important idea that I reflect on every year at this time. To quote a first century philosopher, “I light a candle in the darkness and say, ‘I beg to differ'”.
I have a candle burning right now on a dark, December ,Vancouver night. There is much more darkness in my room and my neighbourhood right now than there is light but my one little candle does make a difference. And it reminds me that every day, in big and small ways, I say to the darkness “I beg to differ” – light, love, hope, peace is possible and I will work for that and seek that until my dying breath.