“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” – Mary Oliver
The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year: the darkest night.
Here in Utah, the earth and plants are being buried under a bounty of snow, animals are taking shelter, and Americans who are accustomed to being busy are frustrated. They want to be doing things. They want to be productive. The snow is getting in the way.
We hardly stop to look around us and listen to what the planet is saying:
Slow down. Take shelter. Stay warm. Rest. Gather Strength.
Many of us experience darkness and immediately want to shine a light. We want to cheer people up and spread a never-ending abundance of holiday cheer. We want to buzz with positivity and productivity and practical accomplishment.
But look at the natural world around us. Take a breath. What do you see?
The trees are bare and silent. The bird’s song is solemn. Animals are in hibernation digesting their stored fat to survive.
Nature is gathering strength. How about you?
I have never been a night owl. At the point in the year when I wake up early, and it is still night, I panic. I have a hard time transitioning. My school semester ends in a busy jumble: students stress out during finals and then disappear. I awake in darkness and my temporary tribes are gone.
But today, I appreciate the sun rising on my coffee and me. I have been exploring habitual thoughts and looking for new thoughts that want to grow. I have been writing pages and pages for myself on legal pads and tearing them up. I don’t have to be productive.
I am gathering strength.
It is now past winter solstice, and the darkness will fade. Little by little, we will go back to longer days and shorter nights. In this incredible natural cycle, listen to nature’s alarm:
Slow down. Take shelter. Stay warm. Rest.
Do not resist the darkness, for in the darkness, we gather strength.
Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas Eve, and Happy Holidays, beautiful readers. See you in 2016.