On a moonless, pitch-dark night on a highway on northern Vancouver Island, my rental car decided to quit. Yes, far away from any town, pre-cell phone era, not that it might be an area with coverage now. It was me, darkness, and the sound of wolves sharing their mournful cries. Was I scared? Yes, but I had the security of being in an enclosed car, and the certainty of day-break or another car coming along within hours.
Have you noticed that darkness abets uncertainty and perhaps fear? The darkness definitely adds a spiciness to the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland, as you have no idea which way the coaster is going to turn next. Darkness lends an eeriness like being in a strange room when there is no contrast either from a light inside or seeping in through a window.
As we encounter the darkest days of the year, or at least the longest nights in the northern hemisphere, we know that this darkness isn't forever. By January, the days are starting to stretch, and we can anticipate brighter days with certainty. Like our calendar, life is marked with seasons that come and go.
There is also the darkness of world events weighing on us, spilling over to what seems to be a resurgence of hate or intolerance in our communities. And in Canada, economic pressures stressing far too many and are reflected in unprecedented demand at our food banks and the unrelenting toll of the drug crisis.
Yet, even in the midst of this darkest time of year and the darkness of the world, there are still lovely things to enjoy. In Vancouver, on my walk to work, there are bushes with berries, dew drops on branches and birds pecking for their morning nourishment. There are Christmas carols and streets and stores with bright seasonal decorations reflected in rain-soaked sidewalks and boulevards. And for many the joy of shopping for and sharing gifts with loved ones.
There is also collective knowledge that all is not right. Is that not a good thing that we know this? Yet where does that belief come from? This week, as I write, we are in the midst of Hanukkah, and Christmas soon follows. Events that celebrate transcendent miracles. Most of us have a belief in something bigger than ourselves, something more important. In a perfect world, there would be no understanding of grace or charity, as there would be no need for them. Without darker winter days, there would be no brighter spring days to look forward to.
So, as you reflect upon 2023, a year likely filled with many joys and sorrows for each of us, know that there is good and that we can look forward with hope and optimism. There are angels in our midst, and we can strive to be among them, to share joy with simple acts of kindness.
As 2023 comes to a close, I do want to thank our customers, vendors and my colleagues at SierraSil®. We have an amazingly helpful ingredient and product, that helps people and their pets with chronically sore joints or muscles recover joy and ability. It is a joy to serve, and I look forward to making better progress in 2024, fulfilling our mission to help a million people and their pets.
*Photo taken by Michael on vacation in December 2021