Solstice Reflections: Darkness Fades

Tomorrow is the winter solstice–the shortest day of the year. And it offers some great material about light, dark, and change.  These are topics that really grab me.  In the past, I wrote about the fact that I appreciate the solstice, because it marks the return of the light.  Earlier this year, I wrote about how darkness allows light to shine more brightly.

Not only does darkness create a space for us to notice and appreciate light (as illness forces us to notice and appreciate health, and loss often reminds us of what is precious in life), the solstice is also an illustration of life’s forward motion.  Each day after the solstice has just a bit more sunlight than the one before. The increase in light is so gradual from day to day that we don’t really notice it.  Instead, in a month or two, we notice that the days are longer than they used to be.

This gradual lightening is a lot like the experience that we have as we are learning to cope with a new challenge or surviving a painful loss.  In the beginning, the darkness of challenge seems to be all around us.  All we can see, think about, or engage with is the fresh experience of our loss or struggle.  Our focus is narrowed to just making it through each moment, or each day.  And it is incredibly hard to imagine that it might ever be different.

But, gradually, we become more accustomed to living with this new reality.  We are more skilled at navigating the daily hassles.  Our darkness begins to lessen, often without our noticing.  We learn that the darkness may have changed our outlook, or our abilities, but it didn’t turn us into someone different.  We remain ourselves–even in the dark.

I don’t expect that you’ll jump up and welcome the pain, loss or challenge that you may be facing now.  I do hope that you are able to remember that, whatever darkness you are in, it will begin to fade.  Hang in there, reach for your good self-care tools, and the light will return, a bit at a time.

5 thoughts on “Solstice Reflections: Darkness Fades

  1. I wrote about the Solstice today too. It holds a very special place in my imagination, as coming from ireland, where it is celebrated every year at Newgrange in the Boyne Valley, it has a Celtic spirituality which really speaks to me. Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage of the mound there is an opening called a roof-box. On mornings around the winter solstice a beam of light penetrates the roof-box and travels up the 19 metre passage and into the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens so that the whole chamber is dramatically illuminated. Inevitably this leads me to reflect on the dark times in our own lives and how in the words of author, Thomas Moore, “every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference. “ Moore sees our dark times as a time to stand back from life, and to “incubate” the soul, to open up to “new and mysterious possibilities”. It was something our ancient Celtic ancestors understood in designing this beautiful lightshow that has been taking place at the same time and date for over 5,000 years. In doing so they have captured for all time the light of hope that can still shine brilliantly in our darkest hours.

  2. What a great post. It’s like you’ve been reading my mind: I’m affected by the shortening days, and I’m always relieved by the winter solstice because there is that hope, that expectation of longer days. Thank you for writing this!

  3. I am always grateful for your insights and wisdom, Ann! As I was reading it occurred to me that the loss of one sense frequently leads to increased sensitivities to others, and that sometimes we we traverse darkness we find other tools to rely on.

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