In the season of “Deck the Halls” and Festivals of Light, I walk onto my deck this December night without light. And I witness a miracle.

The sky shimmers with leftover reflections from a pink and purple sunset. Storming all day, the air is now moist, molecules shining with sparkly water bubbles that reflect the vibrancy of the earlier dusk. The heavens open above me and on every side. The air next to me is dark, but the atmosphere all around glows.

I like being alone on the deck, feeling both winter’s cold and this season’s warmth of heart, feeling both silence and movement in nature. I like the solitude, even as I feel myself integrated with the whole.

I decide to stop and look around. Surrounding me, trees bend, creating silhouettes against the now-whitening panorama, as the shades of evening morph into the tones of night. No foliage left now, just skeletal branches whose lines meander against the fully lit background. The sky seems to hold the blizzard that enfolded us all day. Occasional stars twinkle here and there, island-like in the ever-changing backdrop.

I linger, trying to embrace what I see, how the natural world unfolds and changes. The beauty raises questions in me of its origins. I wonder about solstices and life’s turnings. I wonder even at the science of this moment. How does this happen, this dynamic stillness here for all my cul-de-sac neighbors, my Maine neighbors, my New England neighbors – and beyond – to witness with our different ancestries, intellects, appearances, occupations, skin colors? I can’t – we can’t – explain the gifts given freely to all of us. Grace doesn’t pick and choose. The eeriness of tonight’s sky speaks of a larger force than I can imagine, call it Creation, Mystery, Universe, or maybe Higher Power.

What do I know, really? What do any of us really know? The reality of this Unknown embraces me, and I stand in awe. What else is there to do? Is this not universal holy ground?

I shiver as I walk across the crunchy deck over frozen snow into the house. But the treat of the night sky heats up my insides to all celebrations of light, whatever the name of your God. When I experience the overarching vastness, I know we all share one heart.

Susan Lebel Young teaches mindfulness, yoga and meditation. She can be reached at:

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