Hope in the Darkness

December 21, 2019

By Sister Pat Kenny

We live in dark times; not just the winter season, or a time of grieving and deep distress. This is a time when no matter what our scientific, religious or political persuasion, we find ourselves weighed down by the darkness of what we hear, see and feel around us.  Nature, once reliable and predictable, is behaving in ways we have never seen before. Our governments and churches, institutions we have trusted and relied upon, are letting us down and not gently. We are bombarded with florid rhetoric, fevered arguments, contradictions and assertions that prove untrue. Tragedies and catastrophes we never thought possible occur regularly. No wonder hope is hard to find.

Sunrise at Marian Woods in Hartsdale, New York
Sunrise at Marian Woods in Hartsdale, New York

The French Algerian philosopher, author and journalist once wrote “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer.”  It was December when I first read that quote. My father had just died, the last member of my immediate family. The tasks I was faced with: planning another funeral, selling a home, disposing of a half-century of family treasures, acknowledging piles of condolences – alone – seemed impossible. Camus’ words touched me profoundly but I too found them to be true.

I stop by an east-facing window a Marian Woods some winter mornings and catch my breath. The glow from just below the horizon behind the sharp black tracery of the trees is a homily without words. Trees, like skeletons at this time of year, stripped of their fine greenery, cannot hide the injuries that have shaped them.  Branches twisted in odd angles, bent by icy fingers and unrelenting winds, stand naked but unashamed. Firmly rooted, they have stood through it all. If they had voices, what might they say to me?

The sun, more faithful even than the moon or stars, rises again, in spite of what, a few moments before, seemed like unrelenting darkness. It highlights the very objects time and the elements have battered and proves to me once again that all will be well.  Another day has begun, another chance to get it right, to try again and to believe against all odds that hope is real.

Little Annie, in the musical by her name, had it right when she warbled, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you’re only a day away.”

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  1. Fran Demarco, RSM

    Pat, I so appreciate your reflection on the positive side of darkness. Winter has so much to teach us about our life itself. “It’s only in the deepest darkness that our hearts begin to see.” David Bjorlin

  2. Sister Natalie Rossi

    Thanks for your creative spirit.

  3. Jackie Moreau

    Beautiful thoughts and photo. As family preceded us into mystery, Spirit provides other supports and companions.

  4. Camille D'Arienzo

    Dear Pat,

    Your reflection is comforting and hope-filled. Thank you so very much.


  5. Sister Lucy Calvillo

    Beautiful-I really needed this “reflection”. Thank you.

  6. Sister M. Amadeo

    Beautiful reflection, Pat, and breathtaking photo! Thank you. Hope you have a blessed Christmas. Amadeo

  7. Ellen Vopicka Mercy Associate

    Thank you for your reflection and photo. The peace and beauty of each sunrise can fill our hearts with joy found nowhere else in our world

  8. Karen Scheer, RSM

    Thank you Pat for your beautiful reflection and the reminder that “unrelenting darkness” does not have the final word. Blessings as we celebrate the great feast of Christmas and the coming of The Light!

  9. Ginny Grimes Allen

    What a lovely description of this barren time. I will reread this often!! Thank you.

  10. Martha Meyer, RSM

    Thank you, Pat, for your wise words of hope. I am grateful.

  11. marilyn lacey, rsm

    Thank you, Pat. You are a really good writer, and the spirit of hope permeates this reflection. I look forward to your next piece!

  12. Katherine Mroz

    A poignant message, Pat, in the midst of division within our own country and bleakness in the midst of cynicism.
    Your message of hope brings peace at this Christmas Season.

  13. Kathy Wade, Mercy Associate

    Thank you, Pat, for the sunrise image and for reminding me that “all will be well.” Like the trees, we might be bent a bit, but we stand firmly rooted. Blessings to you and gratitude for this Solstice gift.

  14. Cathy Walsh

    What a lovely, hope-filled essay! Thank you Sister Pat!

  15. Rachelle Harper

    Lovely reminders! Thank you

  16. Helen Penberthy

    Sister Pat – a wonderful reminder in this cold time of year – thank you for sharing your reflection!

  17. Doris Gottemoeller, RSM

    This reflection speaks to my heart. Thank you!

  18. George


  19. Assunta M Riley

    This is powerful and Beautiful… Thank you so much!!

  20. Christine Geoghegan

    This is so beautiful and hopeful! Thank you for sharing your gift of writing and reflection with all of us.

  21. Mary Cleary

    Pat, Thank you for your beautiful reflection on winter and hope.

  22. Mary Ellen Brody, RSM

    Thank you so much… living in hope during dark times is both difficult and blessed.

  23. Katie

    Thank you for these beautiful words put together an amazing way to reveal hope.

  24. Rosellen Li, R.S.M

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring reflection. What a beautiful way to lift our spirits.

  25. Lucy Ploof, RSM

    Beautiful! Thank you.

  26. Kathy Thornton

    Thank you, Pat,
    Your words refresh my spirit.
    Kathy Thornton

  27. Ann McGovern

    Thank Pat for this beautifully written and poignant reflection. I needed it after a trying few weeks due to the political situation in our country! Trying to live into the light, realizing I can only control how I radiate Love.