Every moment of light and dark is a miracle. Walt Whitman
Today we celebrate the Winter Solstice. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we will experience the shortest day and longest night of the year--a mere nine and a half hours of daylight. On December 21st, the sun is at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. Tomorrow, on the 22nd, we cross over the threshold and slowly start adding the smallest increments of light back into our lives. I think it's important to pause and reflect on this annual astronomical phenomenon.
In many ways, the Winter Solstice serves as a metaphor for life. Throughout our lives, light and dark ebb and flow, although not in the predictable ways of the sun. There are times when life seems full of promise and light, where anything and everything seems possible. Then there are those times when it appears that darkness has descended, and light seems elusive and unattainable. After Matthew died, a blackness settled over us like nothing we had ever experienced. It was like walking into a dark room and feeling completed blinded; our previous lives no longer visible. And yet even in the darkest moments I somehow knew that there would be light again, even though I couldn't see it right away. It took time to adjust and refocus to our new lives. But the promise of light, and the friends and family that provided support throughout those long, dark days, helped us return to our own solstice. We too turned the corner and began adding small glimmers of light back into our lives.
A well-lived life is full of dark and light moments. As much as we might wish it so, it's impossible to live on light alone. Nature, too, thrives on the interplay of both. Plants and trees need the darkness just as much as they need light. The long winter months are their time to go dormant and conserve their energy, while outside conditions are less than optimal. By conserving their strength in the winter they are then able to burst forth with new life in the spring. Isn't winter a time for us, too, to reflect and turn inward? Isn't it a time to wrap ourselves in solitude as we attempt to balance the shadow and light within each of us and see what emerges?
So tonight on the longest night of the year, I want to take a moment to remember the season we are in and be grateful for the light of the sun (even when we can't see it) as well as the light and darkness that resides within each of us. I am grateful for another Winter Solstice.