Weavers are shuttling at their looms, the horn workshop whirs, felters felt. It really seems, at times, like we have global elves working around the clock to offer up their best for this season. Despite all of the holiday glitter to the contrary, it is a season of darkness, when the sun dims and the evening lengthens, and ancients believed the sun might just slip away forever if they didn’t woo it back. And so, festivals of light like our own erupt around the world at this time of year, all stemming back to our native impulse to invoke, dance, pray the return of light.

I love this moment in the year, not for the jingle and at times irritable jangle, but for the quiet underneath it. A quiet darkness stretching long and luxuriously across the lap of winter, sending us indoors to the hearth, to a contemplative moment, when candlelight and firelight are our warmth and our comfort is in one another.

Yesterday, I visited a friend whose son found the world far too painful, and tragically departed it. Searing at anytime, but perhaps more out of sync than ever during a holiday season that insists on merry. I am lighting a candle today for my friend, for her son, for those, always in our midst, who live without hope.

Then today, I get up and go to work, where beauty arrives daily. Beauty made from the hands of women who live in dim corners but reach for light, who live in poverty but lean toward hope. The women I know and love, working hand in hand with Ibu, stretch across the darkened globe like a garland of infinitesimal lights. Each bag embroidered for us is lit with a woman’s self-respect. Each bead strung is a small shiny coin slotted for her child’s future.

That each day, women choose to rise and create - even when their husbands war with one another, their governments fail them, their homes flood or maybe don’t exist, even when the darkness threatens to cover us all - that they rise and create and summon the light  - this is the reason for my hope. As we, it seems, are theirs.  

All the Best,

Susan Hull Walker

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