Joyce Rupp | A Winter Prayer: Strengthening Darkness
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A Winter Prayer: Strengthening Darkness

Introduction

Many people experience the lack of light in winter time as difficult. Some suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), resulting in depression due to the deprivation of light.  For them, darkness is an enemy to be contended with.  But darkness can also be a friend. Velma Frye sings of this in the song based on Macrina Wiederkehr’s reflections in Seven Sacred Pauses:  “O beautiful darkness, O comforting darkness.”  How can darkness bring comfort?  Think of a child in the lightless womb, a shade tree on a beastly-hot summer day, the dark sky revealing a star-studded cosmos.

Winter is the time of repose, of nature’s restoration and renewal. This season actually strengthens the parts of creation that experience long hours of darkness. It allows for a quiet resting of both vegetation and creatures. What is quite amazing is that trees are already budding in wintertime, holding a secret of hope. If you look closely at these terminal buds on branches, you can see their tight protection of life. These buds will quickly leaf or flower with warming sun and spring rain.  In the following prayer, I name the Holy One as our Strengthening Darkness, a source of restoration, renewal and repose for us when we are in need of these gifts.

Prayer   (If used communally, all present respond to each statement.

  1. Each morning when we awaken with light still hiding in the sleeve of winter, may we receive what is needed to meet the challenging requirements of the day.     O Strengthening Darkness, we are the terminal buds 
         waiting in repose, to be energized in our vigilant dormancy
  2. Like terminal buds drawing strength from the roots of a wintered tree, we greet the darkest days of the year with hope, trusting that the potency of the Holy One’s love will reinforce this essence of our being.     O Strengthening Darkness, we are the terminal buds 
         waiting in repose, to be energized in our vigilant dormancy.
  3. When evening arrives each wintered day and our list of “to do” is not fully accomplished, let us enter the darkness and discover gratitude for the positive features that were experienced.     O Strengthening Darkness, we are the terminal buds 
         waiting in repose, to be energized in our vigilant dormancy.
  4. Each day let us remember that winter darkness invites us to breathe in stillness, to rest in the arms of silence, where what is of greatest value can be deepened and enhanced in us.     O Strengthening Darkness, we are the terminal buds 
         waiting in repose, to be energized in our vigilant dormancy.
  5. No matter how expansive the world’s suffering, we can unite with that pain through our empathy, the gift of compassion that our experience of darkness empowers in us.     O Strengthening Darkness, we are the terminal buds
    waiting in repose, to be energized in our vigilant dormancy.

 

O Strengthening Darkness, we are the terminal buds on the tree of life. Waiting, trusting, remaining hopeful—may these valued movements of the heart increase in us. Light-filled days will come again into our lives. As the radiant warmth of springtime unfurls the hidden green in buds whose arms wrapped tightly around themselves, so will surprises of future light awaken and unfurl what has seemed forever buried in our winter’s repose.

© Joyce Rupp