As a resident of northern Indiana for 50 years now, Dear Reader, I will be the first to tell you, January feels dark. I drive to school in the dark. More than an hour later, my students arrive at school in the dark. Oftentimes when I am leaving school, it is starting to get dark, as my automatic car lights kick in. And that’s just how it looks. I haven’t even mentioned how the darkness feels. As a teacher, you find out what you are made of on that long haul from January to spring break when the honeymoon is over and negative attitudes and behaviors potentially arise from students and yes, sometimes, even parents. Not to mention, as the work expectation increases and many students want to buck against this natural occurrence in their academic year. The whole getting ready to go to work regimen feels dark, as extra minutes are needed to bundle up against the cold and brave for a slippery trip. The promise of Christmas and the New Year are now in the rear view mirror, while the weight gained from eating over the holidays stares at you directly from the mirror. While I’m always a fan of self-reflection, even self-reflection feels extra dark as we try to stay warm and in the Light until the first signs of spring emerge in March, and sometimes, not until April. No wonder, even a morning person such as myself, struggles to get out of bed and get going, as I would rather pull the covers over my head and block out the cold and the dark.
And I feel that way in a normal year, let alone, in a year where a pandemic and hostility continue to rage. Perhaps you do too, Dear Reader?
But the other day . . . the other day, we here in northern Indiana were blessed with a wonderful moment. No, the sun wasn’t shining (let’s not get crazy), but the ice that had come down and was making travel so treacherous was also making our world extra beautiful. And since we weren’t going anywhere in the middle of a pandemic, we didn’t have to worry about the roads! The pond was beautiful. The trees were particularly beautiful. The land was beautiful, not its usually muddy smear of brown, but instead covered with a pristine white blanket. My kids were still home for Christmas vacation at that point and as each of them came out of their rooms, they too, agreed with my husband and me. We were blessed. Even in the darkness of winter, there was beauty.
I believe God spoke, as the words just flowed into my head. “See Amy, it’s dark. It’s the portion of the year you hate the most. But there’s beauty, Amy J! Keep your eyes open for the beauty. And Amy J., it’s not just the darkness of January to which I want you to apply this lesson. It feels dark right now with Covid. It is dark right now with Covid, and anger, and aggression. But even in the darkness, beauty can be found. Open your eyes! And look for it! Look for it!”
So as I head back to school with my students tomorrow (at the time of this writing) I’m going to try to do a good job. I’m going to try to keep my eyes open for the beauty in this dark ole world. I may have to pay extra close attention. I may have to examine a situation from a different angle. I may have to settle for the smallest of small beauties, but in the darkness . . . goodness and Light are still present. I simply have to be willing to see it and acknowledge it.
And maybe, in the middle of a dark January pandemic, you might be on the lookout for beauty too.
Until the next Wednesday the Lord allows.