I have a rant that has been building for awhile, and it’s time for it to come out…
There’s a poem written in 1650 by Thomas Fuller and in it he writes: “It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.”
That’s the first record of this proverb that has now been used and said an untold but vast number of times.
A simple Google image search provides thousands of images behind these lines.
Tomorrow is the winter solstice.
In MN, this is when it is the darkest for the longest.
And so in honor of the longest darkest night, I’m making a plea to stop telling people that it’s always darkest before the dawn.
Now I get it, this phrase is used with good intentions.
Often to give people hope when they are in their “darkest times.”
But you guys, it’s crap.
Total and utter crap.
Do you know when the darkest part of night is?
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN NIGHT THAT’S WHEN.
And it’s not my opinion, it’s science.
The moment right before dawn is actually pretty light.
Have you ever watched the sun rise?
It isn’t dark dark dark BOOM light.
No, it’s a slow and gradual lightening of the sky until it’s day.
It’s not the darkest but actually the lightest part of night that is before the dawn.
So when someone is in the literal middle of the darkest dark in their lives,
when the shit has hit the fan and they cannot find any light –
telling them it’s darkest before it’s light feels like the lie it is.
Have you ever been in this kind of darkness?
It’s really dark. I mean really.
It’s scary, and isolating, and so hard.
And when you’re in it,
without a doubt,
that dawn is NOT, in fact, around the corner.
So what do we say?
We have to say something right?
When a friend is in the dark? We can’t just be quiet.
Yes you can.
You don’t have to say the right thing or send them the perfect quote on the perfect background you found on pinterest…
You know what you can do?
You can bring a candle and sit in the dark with them.
I KNOW – we don’t like the dark at all.
In fact, we often would rather sort of toss a flashlight in the general direction of someone who is in the dark, and hope they know how to use it.
We say things like “let me know if I can do anything”
or “I’m here if you need me”
I say “we” because I am absolutely guilty of this as well.
I’m a fixer. I want people to be happy and healthy and shiny.
But that’s not real life.
So tomorrow, on the shortest day, on the darkest longest night,
go be the light.
Because if you know someone in the dark,
in the darkest dark,
in the middle of the darkest night,
know that it’s probably not almost dawn,
it’s not likely to be light for a little while yet,
and they might need some company,
and someone to bring the light for them for awhile.
Lastly – if you are in the dark, if this is you… know that while it might still be dark for a little while,
the light DOES and will come.
Maybe not quickly, but it will come,
a tiny bit lighter, day by day, little by little.
Gradually, and then it’ll be light again.