Today is the winter solstice. What that means in scientific terms can be found here. What it means on the surface is the first day of Winter. What it means spiritually is up to you.
Commonly known as the shortest day of it year, today has the least amount of daylight. Conversely, that means that the darkness has been encroaching for six months, it’s now as dark as it will get and beginning tomorrow, the light will return in slivers and moments.
You’re taught that darkness is to be feared, loathed, ignored, and destroyed, but the truth is that both darkness and light live within you. This time of year, you may try to plug up every crack of darkness with the blaze of artificial lights, to try to keep it as far away as possible. But darkness and light are interdependent, each present opportunities, each carry gifts and challenges.
Sometimes, you just need to sit in the dark, even if it’s only to prove to yourself that you can. I see the solstice as a time to hunker down, to look within, to find what David Whyte calls “that small, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.” (The Journey, David Whyte) Today invites you in, to find that one eternal flame within you, and to choose to tend it.
A match strike in the darkness is a powerful thing indeed.
I was waxing nostalgic on Facebook the other day after listening to Sirius XM’s Nelson Mandela Remembrance channel. I was more interested in music than changing the world in the mid 80s, but went to an Amnesty International show and saw a local band play an outstanding version of Peter Gabriel’s Biko. A line from that song stays close to me, especially today.
You can blow out a candle
But you can’t blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
My advice, not that you asked, is to embrace this opportunity to look within. Embrace your darkness – it makes you whole. Find your essential flame and help it catch. Today can mean a whole lot or it can pass by your door unnoticed and unexamined. You choose.
Here’s a great poetic meditation to help you enter that sometimes uncomfortable space.
Questions Before Dark
~ Jeanne Lohmann
Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, consider
your altered state: has this day
changed you? Are the corners
sharper or rounded off? Did you
live with death? Make decisions
that quieted? Find one clear word
that fit? At the sun’s midpoint
did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites
the possible? What did you learn
from things you dropped and picked up
and dropped again? Did you set a straw
parallel to the river, let the flow
carry you downstream?