The phrase is, the darkest hour is before dawn.
Is that this hour?
The phrase admits of at least two meanings, depending on how one emphasizes the balance of the sentence: the subject (“darkest hour”) or the predicate (“before dawn”).
Which half should one emphasize at this precise moment? Darkness, or dawn?
When I watch my boys skip on their way to school, or prance in the sunlight with swords and shields, or clap with delight at a blow-up Halloween display, I can believe that dawn is here. That optimism sustains me.
When I get the e-mails at work, detailing in the vaguest of terms that someone has caught glass lung disease at work, when I get the emails (meant for others) saying that the building in which I work is to be renovated and no plans have been made for alternative arrangements, when I have certain conversations with my boss in which he (apparently) unwittingly reveals that he knows less than nothing about what the hell is going on around here, when I have to face the plain ugly fact that all around me is chaos, utter chaos, it feels utterly dark.