I always look forward to taking part in Darkness into Light, the annual fundraiser for www.pieta.ie, the charity which provides help for those in suicidal distress, those in crisis and those bereaved by suicide. I have fond memories of joining thousands of joggers and walkers in yellow tee-shirts as we moved from initial darkness into the gradually unfolding light of a new day, supporting those among us who have survived suicide attempts and those have been bereaved by the tragedy of suicide in their family or friendship group. It is truly humbling to hear the stories of strength and survival from many of those who support Pieta because of the hope it has brought to their lives and to the lives of those they love. Last year’s walk was particularly memorable as we walked along with a young person who had struggled with her own darkness during the year and who had come through that difficult phase in her life thanks to the support of the volunteers in Pieta. We were walking in gratitude for her life and in support of others in a similar position and their relatives.
The term Darkness into Light resonates with people on so many levels. It describes the physical action of rising in darkness and being up to meet the sunrise but it also refers to inner darkness and the journey into light for those suffering from mental health issues. It represents moving from despair into hope. It is a particularly apt name for the fundraiser as participants are symbolically moving from darkness into light, as well as physically doing so.
Darkness into Light 2020 was a different than usual event due to COVID-19. There were no gatherings of thousands of people in parks or along forest paths or coastal walkways, wearing the trademark yellow t-shirt, coming together in a spirit of communal support for those in pain and distress in our community. But Darkness into Light did happen. It happened in small ways, with pockets of people gathering, walking (2 km apart), greeting the dawn and donating to this very worthy cause. It happened with the help of a TV and radio campaign and an online appeal. Visual images were broadcast of lines of lights as vehicles gathered in many parts of the country to create a convoy driving from darkness into light. Some people walked in family groups or jogged to favourite spots, others simply set alarms so that they could get up to greet the dawn in their own gardens, balconies and yards. Many people spread the message by wearing a Darkness into Light t-shirt and sharing their sunrise moment. Despite COVID 19, and even though it happened with a difference, Darkness into Light 2020 still happened. For me, it was a privilege to get up at 5 am, go to a spot a few kilometres from my home, and greet the most amazing sunrise. These are some memories of that beautiful morning.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise - Victor Hugo