Within the past 24 hours depending on where you live in the world sometime between the last hours of Dec. 21 and the first hours of today, our Earth completed its shift away from the Sun in the northern hemisphere creating what we call The Winter Solstice. We have moved into a space that I like to think of as “between longest night and newest light.” For months now, our days have been growing shorter and our night longer. For months now, our days will begin to grow longer and our nights shorter. The Winter Solstice is also known as Midwinter, and that might be a good thing to remember now. There is still quite a number of dark days ahead as we begin, with the newest light to creep our way out of the longest night.
I think of that transition from longest night to newest light as a significant reminder: some of our best clarity comes emerging out of long periods of unknowing, of confusion, of the inability to find our way.
Even as I try to express this with words containing no judgment, it is still so easy to consider darkness a bad thing. Darkness is not bad–it’s just not filled with a lot of clarity, direction and assurance, and we tend to crave those things. Darkness does provide us with good gifts if we can allow them. Darkness provides us with stillness (it’s hard to move in the dark, so don’t!). Darkness provides us with a relief from responsibility (one cannot be responsible for things that one cannot see). Darkness provides us with time (can’t move, can’t decide–must wait). How often we complain about the hurried pace of life, the stresses that weigh on our shoulders, the lack of time for ourselves. Darkness and what we often refer to as dark periods in our lives create those things we long for: stillness, relief and time–if we allow ourselves to receive them.
We are at midwinter. We are moving through the transition of longest night to newest light. The newest light will only come slowly. The darkness will still surround us for a good while yet. Can we allow the gifts that come with this transition?
As Rilke wrote (in brief): “You darkness, that I come from, I love you…
I have faith in the night.”
Bob, Thanks for honoring The Stillness on cusp of Winter Solstice.
Holiday Greetings to all who read these meditations.
Rev. Roy Reynolds