It's December: the final month of the year and the final month of my 2012 Calendar. The world has turned dark; it has been very, very wet and now it is very, very cold. The occasional bright day, lit up by winter sunshine, is a rare bonus right now. Getting out of bed in the morning (when it still seems to be night) is that much harder, as is going out into rain or bitter cold; much easier to stay snuggled up with tea and comfort food! What gets me up and out is the knowledge of commitment, or the awareness of good times, learning, encounters to come... but even so, we all know it's that much easier to bounce out of bed when the sun is streaming through the curtains.
This month I'm reading II Timothy. Even without a British winter Timothy's spirits seem to have been flagging, and he needed to be encouraged, as well as reminded of his commitment. Right at the beginning Paul says to him:
That is why I am reminding you to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you... not a spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power, and love and self-control. (1: 6-7)
There are times when we all need to hear those words of encouragement, when our inner fires are flickering and dying down, and we need to be reminded of the strength somewhere within us...
There is a flipside to December darkness: I have photographed some of my most striking sunsets this month, though rarely - alas - in this country. The best ones have come from a particular spot on the edge of my father's village in Piedmont. So to help us all kindle our inner fires, this month I will share a Piemontese December sunset, reminder of the splendid light which can come out of wintry gloom... which is very appropriate for the season of Advent, which begins tomorrow. A sunset seems a fitting way to end this year's calendar - and a fitting way to begin Advent!