My grandmother loved Christmas, and she also loved cardinals. Where I grew up in central Illinois, they were everywhere. Bright red birds with a jaunty crest, that lived alongside the chickadees and blue-jays and nuthatches in the woods behind my house. Bright as holly berries or blood-drops against the snowy winter-land, they showed up on her Christmas cards as a constant reminder of her love for us.
And so, this Midwinter (our first in this new house), I found a cardinal to add to our Yule decorations. We’ve survived the moving process (barely!), but like the winter-laden land around us, all is quiet. The darkness is like a blanket around us as we wait for the winter solstice, when the sun turns around and the days begin to grow longer. Spring will come, and the world will wake and bloom with riots of color. But until then, the candle’s steady glow and the bright bird of promise keep us warm as we rest and recover.