The night is dark, and it’s been dark all day. The low sun has been nowhere to be seen behind the thick clouds. And the rain is sleeting down.

The rain is sleeting down, my windshield wipers going. I duck my head, even in the car, as a large truck passes by and flings even more water onto my windshield. The wipers get notched up to triple time then down again to their steady thu-thump…. thu-thump. I peer into the darkness ahead, thinking it’s time for bed – but it’s not even close to the late hour my body thinks it is.

Why does the darkness seem particularly heavy this year? Despite the time change being just around the corner, this darkness does not seem to be dissipating anytime soon. The heaviness sits as a stone on my being. I imagine this stone in a backpack that weighs heavy on my back along with other stones I carry. When I get home, I sling my metaphorical backpack off and examine the stones one by one, hefting them in my hand, sometimes needing both hands to support a particularly weighty one.

The darkness, the rain. That first stone which almost jumps into my hand, having just come in out of it, is something to be expected in these Pacific Northwest winters – a stone that I really should be accustomed to by now, after three decades here. And when I pull it out of the backpack, it is not as heavy as I thought it would be after all. It sits easily in my hand, is dark and opaque, and smells (no surprise) of wet pavement. I am surprisingly invigorated by its heft and feel. I place it beside me.

I pull a particularly large dense jagged stone out of my backpack of burdens. It cuts my hand quite painfully and jolts my eye with its ugliness. Yes, I know this particular awful heavy burden. I put pressure on my hand to stop the bleeding but know that our nation will bleed for a while. I feel sick to my stomach even holding this stone out in the open, but know it has to be seen for what it is in order to be handled. This particular rock often squeezes my lungs and heart with its weight. There is no way to soft coat it, but the knowledge that many are working to make it historic sand that will be ground and blended into time somehow make the edges slightly dulled. I set it down gingerly and feel better immediately.

The next one fits itself into my hand perfectly. It is a smooth stone, quite lovely, not too heavy these days, with streaks of beauty carving their way through the shiny surface. I love the feel of this rock, and hope to always carry it. Its name is simply Daughters. It has that perfect weight that would unbalance me if gone.

Next one. I peer into the backpack to try to get a feel for how many are left. Ahh. This one that I reach for next proclaims itself as self care. Self care is a burden to me, I admit it. I often put myself lowest in my list of priorities, and despite significant personal work, still feel like it is somewhat selfish to do things just for me. I kiss this rock, which is mirrored like opal and a beautiful green color.

As I continue to examine my rocks, heft them and name them, bring some up to my cheek and others to my heart, I inexplicably begin to feel better. My rocks aren’t lighter – but by naming them and examining them, by hefting them and feeling their contours deliberately, somehow their mass shifts.

Somehow their mass shifts. I smile with that realization, and the rocks seem to glow and shimmer beside me. The rocks glow and shimmer as I smile, they glow and shimmer as I place them carefully back into my backpack, as I zip it up, as I gently gently put it away, just for a little while.