An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

In the Dark of December

I heard a bird sing in the dark of December . . . . “We are nearer to Spring/Than we were in September.” Although the mind comprehends the seasonal cycle, the spirit does not. As light steadily decreases day by day in December, the human soul fights the darkness into which the earth descends with holidays of food, music, light, gatherings of fellow beings.

Finally the solstice arrives—the earth begins tilting back toward the sun and light lengthens each day. Cold persists, but hope arises, fed by earlier dawns and later sunsets—if only by seconds at first.

Everything on earth dies—even mountains crumble. Only the solar cycles and the waves of the sea repeat endlessly. Finite human minds yearn to be eternal. As we descend into later years, we struggle against the ravages of age. Religion comforts us when loved ones lose the battle with mortality. They have been renewed in a better place—but no such hope accompanies our own demise.

Blind and locked in dementia, 86-year-old Aunt Loosy fights to stay alive—fearing that if she lies down and closes her sightless eyes, she will not awaken. She fights to go home—not to a heaven where loved ones await her, but to her old house with a body renewed for another season of light and work. Neither modern medicine nor religion offers her that hope. Like Dylan Thomas, Aunt Loosy refuses to “go gentle into that good night.” She continues raging “against the dying of the light.” Birds sing in December and the human heart takes joy even as light and energy decrease—but the human body is not on a seasonal cycle. For us, the dying of the light is permanent. Spring will not always come—at least not as we have known it.

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