Ancestors. So many, so diverse. For the moment, let's set aside the ancient swimmers and crawlers, our scaled and sharp-toothed forebears, and the small furry cousins sleeping soundly beneath the grassy lot next door.
In this season between remembering ancestors at AllHallowsEve, and the deep dark of the winter solstice, our early human grandfathers and grandmothers saw only a dying god, the life-giving sun each day diminished, decaying before their eyes and altars, with no promise of redemption from a cold, dark, empty death.
They knew that life is a circle; that this darkening time had come, and gone, and come again since before people sang songs and made fires, but they did not know why or how. Perhaps this year, Helios would succumb, sinking ever lower, ever weaker until gone forever. And all the while, food is running out; day by day reserves wither like the stalks and vines picked clean two moons prior.
So they waited, and inside them we, with all our far-future aspirations, waited too. Waited in uncertainty. In doubt. In fear.
Millennia later, we great-great-grandchildren still feel a vague unease as we drive to work in the grey early dawn, and return home after sundown. We awake in the dark, and go to sleep in the dark, more-so each day, until our whole lives seem encompassed by cold empty darkness, and bare skeletons of trees, and an increasingly greyscale existence.
Chilling winds seek and find vulnerabilities in our parkas and families, so we bundle our coats and our kids closer around. And we wait.
They say every person has a hole in their soul, well, this season makes it hard to pretend otherwise. So we try to fill our cold hunger with fermented spirits, and sugar, and fat, with bloated bellies and even emptier souls. We try to color the grey with brightly ribboned packages, purchased with buckets of bright red ink. We try to fill the deep emptiness with clichéd music, fake cheer and shallow smiles, then snap and gripe at those we love the most.
But we, know, better. We know something important that our hungry ancestors could not have known. Behind the veil of the sky, hidden but to those who follow subtle clues and make precise measurements, the sun’s wanderings become still – it is we who wander the heavens from morning to night, and season to season.
This we know: the sun, with celestial powers far beyond the wildest imaginings of ancient priests and prophets, a burning bush of a thousand thousand worlds, yet slavishly follows the common law of falling apples and running water.
Spring will come. It must, because it’s the law! Not laws of men or kings or even gods, but law both higher and lower than all of these, the laws of heaven and earth and space and time themselves. Call it faith, yes, but also knowledge; spring will come. The light will return.
They say that all good things come to those who wait. Let us wait thoughtfully, patiently, confidently, faithfully. In the quiet and welcoming dark. Together, we wait.