We cannot know light without knowing darkness. We cannot know abundance without knowing lack. Contraction teaches expansion, fear teaches love. Opposites. Our reality is a study of duality. Our loneliness is a yearning for unity.
“Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence
is in every small contraction and expansion,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.” – Rumi
This season of lack is not to be despised or feared or negated. This is a time to appreciate the cycles of our lives, this moment in this season.
I see Christmas hoopla as a vain attempt to stamp out the days of darkness and scarcity: the blinking lights, the noise, the excess and over-indulgence. Many people speak of a feeling of emptiness that accompanies the frenzy, and a fatigue that pervades. That was my experience too.
It has taken some years and some effort for me to welcome this time of darkness. It was a challenge to love the darkness as much as the light, not to fight it but to accept its turn. There is something simple about dearth, something sacred about the stillness. It is, after all, a time of rest: hibernation and fasting.
I celebrate Winter Solstice by giving up electricity for the day, burning candles and using the woodstove for heat and cooking. I will smudge the house with white sage. I will walk in the wintery woods and feed the chickadees and nuthatches and squirrels. I will stand at the edge of the river at dusk and thank God for the beauty of Mother Earth and my time here. I will be serving local winter foods- trout, potato latkes, borscht and bread, hard cheese and pickles. In summer, I bottle one jar of fresh peaches especially for the longest night- a light taste that reassures me: summer solstice is on its way now, and the days will steadily lengthen.
I wish you deep rest and quiet peace these dark days of winter.