One of my highlights of 2021 came from something I registered for spontaneously following a twitter recommendation. In the middle of COP I went along to Dark Room, billed as “10 minutes of ordinary time in complete darkness”. Each showing was running only for an audience of one.
On arrival I was given brief instructions, and left in position. As I sat alone in the pitch-black, a soundscape enveloped the space, and I felt held in the midst of the darkness. We often manage, limit, or fear the dark. Here instead was a moment given over to apprehend it.
At the end of the so-called 10 minutes of ordinary time, I was greeted by the performers who both enquired and listened, their care and attentiveness standing in contrast with the hurry and disregard of the settings I was otherwise in that week.
As is promised by the scriptures and Noah and the Whale, life goes on. There are tides of light and dark to contend with, and we often manage, limit or fear these tides. It’s easy to miss the considerable power and beauty to be found when we instead give ourselves over to apprehend them.
One of the introduction questions we did on a zoom call this year was: what is a source of wonder for you? There were lots of answers I expected; yet I failed to anticipate the answers which reflected on people’s tenacity and perseverance as a source of wonder.
The world over, people persevere to compete, campaign, advocate, build, thrive, create and discover. In my reflection on the past year, it’s noticing this capacity, the spiritedness of others, life’s indefatigability, that has proven itself significant.
2021 was for me a year of more being on lockdown, a house and church move, three jobs, A-Z dates, grief, COP26, jury service and so much more. The year felt relentless; a continual pushing through to the end of each week only for another one to begin. At the same time, I enjoyed a deep sense of meaning, as dealing with risk more acutely allowed the brightness of receiving from others to shine through.
The most precious moments are the most human. In Wintering by Katherine May, of experiencing the Swedish Saint Lucia procession at church, it is written that, everyone is a lit candle.
Everyone is a lit candle. Different people bring with them their own light. The beauty of people’s skills, character, perspectives make possible the navigation of shifting tides.
It’s always a privilege to witness friends who make choices wish aren’t just reasonable or justifiable but are instead fearsome, exceptional, and dare I say, holy.
It’s easy to think that such choices are made by becoming other than we are, but I am convinced this isn’t the case. Such choices are made by becoming more of who we are. Wonder rests in the unique glory of each life, and our lives each refract that glory as we choose grace and courage when the unexpected washes in.
It’s not by striving that we are able to choose the fearsome over the reasonable, and the exceptional over the justifiable. It is not in awe of strength that I write, but of our quiet glories which possess strength only insofar as they are humble.