It was Solstice just the other day, the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere, but also the time when longer days resume, a strange conflation of darkness and coming light.

I have just returned from an emergency visit to my father-in-law. A couple days ago, doctors told my husband that his 92-year-old father was in kidney failure and had just days to live. Today, he is clamoring to get out of bed (and doing so), reading the newspaper, and heartily eating. Life is unpredictable. As is death.

We live in dark times. Or do we? There’s no doubt that we face dangers unprecedented in human history. The ice caps are melting. Species are disappearing faster than we can identify them. Human slavery is on the rise. Resources are dwindling. Institutionalized animal cruelty causes tens of billions of sentient animals to suffer horribly. All true. All dark.

But just as my father-in-law defied the dire predictions this week, so too may the challenges we face be met not with catastrophe, but with positive change and creativity. I believe that our personal challenge is to meet the dark with our own light – our wisdom, our compassion, our courage, and our commitment, and thereby transform the perils we face into opportunities.

As the year turns and as the light returns, may you bring forth your light to this world that needs you so.

~ Zoe, IHE President