A few weeks ago, as I was ruminating on my feelings around Thanksgiving this year, I shared this post with you and spoke about how the song “Shades of Gray” feels, to me, like a call to hope, however odd that may seem.

To quote Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann:


But today there is no day or night

Today there is no dark or light

Today there is no black or white

Only shades of gray


I’m reminded again and again — by this song, by our increasingly short winter days — that so much of life exists in the gray places. When our world doesn’t play out neatly in black and white, good and bad, there is so much room for discovery (and self-discovery). It’s in these not-so-clear, in-between spaces that we discover nuance and humanity and making mistakes and making amends.  

We have so much to learn from the shades of gray in our lives — and all the messiness and complexity they can hold.

I’m reminded of some reflection I did a few years back, amidst the holiday season and in anticipation of the end of the year. I pondered the darkness and my natural inclination to “do something about it”:


I began thinking about the urge to brighten the dark,

and just before I lit a candle against the darkness,

I began to see something new in our northern winter,

something beautiful hidden in the dark.

I saw this:


A time of darkness.

A time of calm beauty.

A time of possibility.

A time in which dreams,

usually diminished and faded by light,

seemed more vivid,

more visible against the backdrop of the dark.


This season, I’d like to invite you not to shy away from the dark, those please that seem unclear, not so obvious, not so clear-cut. To linger in the nuances of the shades of gray and learn from them. And notice. The longer you sit in the low light, the more your eyes adjust until you begin seeing things you didn’t know were there. As I wrote that Christmas of 2014:


It’s in this moment,

as the earth tips gently away from the sun

that we have the opportunity to see wisdom and beauty within the shadows of the year.


May your season be merry and bright. And may it also be full of deep wonder, quiet introspection, and thoughtful reverence for what the less-bright moments of our lives have to teach us. 

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a new year full of hope and growth.

Photo by Bernd Dittrich on Unsplash