Monday, December 19, 2011

Yurting III: Firelight

Winter’s long night can be exhausting. It’s sad to see the sun go down by five in the evening, and sad not to see it again until almost seven the next morning. We light the lanterns here well before my husband in home from work, and though we have enough to make a cozy light, it isn’t the sort of lighting that works for cleaning, sewing, finding little lost things, or staying up late.

There’s a whole different atmosphere that comes with natural lighting. The flickering lanterns and candles make the darkness and the light seem like living things battling it out for control of some space. They make the eyes of our icons come alive, they make the night magical. If we’ve gone out for the evening, we always make sure there is a flashlight by the door, and a lighter nearby, otherwise we could be wander the house in pure darkness, tripping over things and trying to remember where we last saw a light.

On the whole, I love living with lanterns and candles. Electric lighting is not one of the things I miss, and definitely nothing we’d ever waste energy on when we eventually do have some solar power. The lanterns give our little home an atmosphere I’d been trying to create for years with shades, small lights, funky light bulbs and a few candles mixed in. It gives the night an energy I’d never experienced before, a sense of power. I can understand the imagery of darkness and light in the Bible now: “the light shown in the darkness and a darkness did not overcome it.” Watching a candle die in the night, I can see the darkness overcoming light, slowly drowning it in blackness and shadow. It is a joy to see the lamplight brighten a space of darkness, to watch the shadows recede. I think it is lightening more than anything that gives our home the feel of being a sacred space, a little hermitage where love grows strong.

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