Darkness on the edge – today is the solstice here in the northern hemisphere, mid winter, the day with the least amount of light in the calendar year.
It is cold and very dark. As I appreciate the fire glowing and crackling in the wood burner and the hot water bottle on my lap and the electricity that powered the kettle that filled it, my snug slippers, the roof over my head and my hot cup of tea, I think of the many people who are in a different kind of darkness, inner and outer, personal or political. And of others that have come through that darkness to offer us hope.
Hope is not a form of guarantee; it’s a form of energy, and very frequently that energy is strongest in circumstances that are very dark.
We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
It takes time to go from charcoal to a diamond.
Carlos Santana, from a BBC documentary about his life and career in music
At Bergen-Belsen I was lying dying among three hundred corpses … It never occurred to me that I could be one of them, never. I never felt like a victim. I felt more like an observer. I felt that this is nothing to do with me, I just happen to be here and I have to take it as it comes. Survival is a very complex matter. You don’t learn it – it comes to you spontaneously. When you were really down in the hell and come up again, you have learned what matters in life and what doesn’t. And what matters are very few things – life matters, and human relationships. And that’s about it. The rest is not important; one can live without. And because of this, it has enriched my life and I’m grateful … for that experience. I can say that.
Zdenka Fantlova, holocaust survivor, from the BBC documentary ‘The Lady In No 6’