Wednesday, December 21, 2011
'Tis the year's midnight
The best thing about winter solstice is the fact that the daylight hours will start to lengthen, barely, but the march toward spring has begun. Fog fastened sky to the earth today and rain fell light then heavy. Nothing inspired outdoors until darkness fell and holiday lights shone against the black of night. Even people who are of usual good cheer felt weighted with the heaviness of this dull day.
Our patients had to let staff know their plans for Christmas by the beginning of this week. Some families will go out of their way to make sure a disabled loved one will have a few hours outside the hospital for a meal or gathering. In the end, very few will be going out and many of our elderly patients would have no one to spend Christmas with even if they were well.
A local church has a "Longest Night" service on winter solstice each year. It is geared for people who are going through challenging times and do not feel the merriment of the season because of bereavement, illness and loss. Each person in the congregation holds a lighted candle against the darkness that threatens to envelop them and there are songs, readings, and scriptures of hope, joy, peace and love. I listened to the service on the radio this evening and enjoyed the encouraging reflections that were shared.
Today I heard about a program called Santa for Seniors for the first time. There are toy drives for needy children and food hampers for needy families but I have not come across a program that reaches into the lonely rooms of our elderly who are separated from family by distance, disinterest and death.
'Tis the year's midnight...* and for some it is a season of loneliness and personal darkness. I must take the time to shine the light of caring and friendship their way. Perhaps I will be the one needing that light in the future.
*A Nocturnal Upon St. Lucy's Day, Being the Shortest Day by John Donne