We were driving on the highway one summer night. I was five. It was dark except for the city lights and in the distance, a Ferris wheel. My eyes widened as we got closer to that wheel, it grew, and the scene came into full view. The bright umbrellas of the kiddie rides and the twisting, swirling excitement. When Mom told me we were going to the carnival, my response was, “We get to go there?”
I’ve retained that sense of wonder. Not easy to do as an adult. Growing older and learning more about the ugly things of the world can make us cynical, but even with all the unimaginable violence and sadness, my eyes remain on hope. Like the fun carnival scene in the distance, I look forward to what’s ahead of me. Of course, I know there will certainly be challenges and obstacles I can’t imagine from my vantage point right now.
But I also know that after the winter, spring will come. Flowers will bloom, birds will sing, and the sun always melts the snow and dispels the darkness. This past year was challenging in many ways. There were moments of anxiety and fear I could not have anticipated. But there were also surprises and joys I could not have foreseen. As I experience more of the darkness, it makes those bright moments in life sweeter.
As a new year begins, there will be light and there will be darkness. Joy and pain. I know that. But I’m still excited. I still maintain the happy anticipation I experienced as a child looking out at the carnival. I look forward to simple pleasures and revel in them. Moments of peaceful solitude as well as shared moments. Appreciating the beauty in nature or the beauty in loved ones. Those are the sparkling lights ahead of me in the darkness. And, yes, I do get to go there.