I’ve been thinking a lot about darkness these days. For one thing, it literally comes early now in the Northern Hemisphere. Gone are the gauzy summer sunsets. December nights instead unfurl like a heavy blanket. This year, the arrival of dusk carries a different kind of weight.
A resurgence of the coronavirus has meant that many of the holiday gatherings that typically draw us together in defiance of the December cold and dark have been scaled back or canceled. While public health officials have signaled significant medical progress, they also warn that the next few months may be dark indeed.
So at this moment, where can we turn for a bit of light?
Elie Wiesel was no stranger to darkness. The Romanian-born writer and Nobel laureate was sent to a concentration camp when he was 15 years old. He lost his father, mother, and one sister to the death camps before he was liberated by Allied forces. That time period was so enshrouded in darkness for him that he named his seminal masterpiece chronicling the ordeal “Night.”
But night eventually gives way to dawn.
As an adult, Wiesel was determined to be a light for humanity. He became an advocate for Holocaust remembrance, so that humankind might learn from its past transgressions. He spoke out wherever he saw injustice and suffering, using his stature to take his concerns to heads of state.
He reflected on his life experiences in his 2012 memoir, “Open Heart.” “Even in darkness,” he wrote, “it is possible to create light and encourage compassion.”
We can all carry those words close this winter.