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This year I realized that I have been lying about my favorite season for years. The blazing glory of Northeast Pennsylvania fall foliage aside, my favorite season is not autumn. It is winter.

The contrast between indoor coziness and exterior misery has something to do with this, I'm sure. But the real reason I love winter is because of the absolute clarity that this time of year brings. It is a clarity that doesn't come from books or journaling or other people. It is a clarity that comes straight from the source.

And here is an example. Standing on the edge of my snow covered lawn, I hear a crow call from the woods and a moment later another responds and even before the words come, I know something I didn't know before.

A few years ago I came in from another cold lawn and wrote that it takes determination to make a go of winter in Northeast PA. But the truth is that it takes more than determination - it takes hope. And just now, out in the wet snow, I realized something I should have figured out a long time ago.

Hope is a commitment we make to others as well as ourselves.

There is something about the darkness this season brings, something about the way it almost overpowers the light, that helps us see just how much that light means. I believe that this is why we light Yule logs and Menorahs and Christmas lights. Because in the midst of darkness we need to remember that light is hope and that hope is a promise we are required to keep.

This year, a relationship I used to believe in is in trouble and people I care about are trying to make their way through an incomprehensibly difficult holiday. Words are my gift but in this words have failed me.  So I light a candle and I remind myself that even if no one else can see it right now that's okay because there are times when they did and there will be times when they will again.

And I know that, eventually, we all get all a chance to keep that flame going and that this year it is my turn to hold the light.

You can read the post I mention in this article at A Light in Winter: The Queen of Swords and it's companion poem here: Timing a Card Reading.  Other wintry posts can be accessed through the thumbnails below or via search.

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