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I love winter. This past week of snow and bitter cold delighted and invigorated me. I can’t quite explain why. Maybe it has something to do with the light and the transformation of the world into a different place.

But getting up in the dark is very, very hard. This morning as I awoke, the great horned owls were still singing to one another deep in the woods, and the dogs startled the deer who like to browse in the darkness.

Today, however, even though the sunrises will keep getting later and and later, the hours of light begin to lengthen. In deepest winter we find ourselves thinking about the path we are beginning to the longest day in summer. In summer, the joy of that long day is tinged with sadness that the days will begin to shorten. Now, the darkness is enlivened by the hope of spring.

Two of our friends have lost parents this week. They are deeply religious people, so I imagine their grief is filled with this same mixture of despair and promise: the paradox of faith. As they gaze out on this new and alien landscape of their lives, may they find the consolation of light and hope.