I've always liked this card, Red Emma, so I'll give you my 2 cents on it.
This is a very pagan card in its outlook and philosophy. I don't know your background in pagan historical stuff, so I'm going to assume you have none, and take it from there. No insult intended
The scene looks bleak because it's the dead of winter....winter solstice. That's the little baby sun being reborn. It's not strong yet, like it is in the sun card, where it's at midsummer solstice. Winter Solstice is the time of year associated with new born saviors, including the Christ-child. And this little sun is a savior, without it all life on earth would die.
Waaaaay back when, before we got scientific, many cultures believed that the sun would not return without our help. We had to not only help it not to die, but also to grow and become strong. So we had fire festivals, like Winter Solstice, (aka Yule) to do our part, and celebrate the return of the light.
The evergreens shown on the card (holly, ivy and mistletoe) are used as symbols of things that survive the winter "death". The spirals carved in the stone represent the cycle of life-death-rebirth-life-death-life-rebirth, etc.
In the more traditional (Christian) versions of this card, the dead are awakened and called to the last judgement, and then go to heaven or hell, depending. With pagans, it's more cycles of lives, in which the soul (hopefully) learns and grows from lifetime to lifetime.
In my mind I read this card, (and most judgement cards) - as being the awakening of the soul to new knowledge or experience. Sort of a Cosmic AHA! moment. The spirit has just jumped a level, skipped a grade, graduated, suddenly understands something important that was impenetrable until now. It has learned a lesson so well that it will not have to repeat it.
YaY! No Summer School!
This is my understanding of this card, and I hope it's helpful.