Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Solstice: The Darkness and the Light ...

Friday will mark the Winter Solstice, the time of year when we experience the shortest day and the longest night as the sun reaches its most northerly point above the equator.

Across our history, we have marked this day as one of particular significance. Faith traditions of all sorts have celebrated this point in the year's cycle, facing expectantly into the return of the light. We celebrate the fact that from the solstice onward, each day will bring a little more life-sustaining brightness.

But for some care-givers, there is little light on the horizon, little brightness to anticipate. The notion of the returning light seems a distant possibility at best, highlighting the particular darkness of their worlds. They feel isolated and cut off from the joy of the solstice because the light seems so far outside their everyday experience.

But even those who feel shrouded in the darkness of ongoing care-giving or compassion fatigue can celebrate the solstice authentically. By fully experiencing the darkness, we can, paradoxically, open to the possibility of experiencing the light.

When we examine our own particular darkness, see its shades and colours, explore its pathways, recognize how we experience times when seeing is difficult, and acknowledge times that ask us to open to whatever-lies-beyond-what-we-know, we can apprehend the "gifts" of the darkness.

When we believe that there are treasures in the darkness, we can rest in it more easily, allowing ourselves to stay present, moment-by-moment, even in the hard times. As author, Jan Richardson, puts it:
If we are not willing to journey through the darkness, we cannot understand how the light begins. Where it comes from. How it makes its way into the world as grace and gift, as illumination and revelation, calling us to bring forth the treasures we have found along the shadowy way.
It is through our experience of darkness that we can recognize and develop the personal gifts - compassion, patience, courage, love, tenacity, endurance, strength, psychological and spiritual growth - that will eventually accompany us into the light, and contribute to our ability to become weller-than-well.

So, if darkness is your truth this Winter Solstice, allow yourself to acknowledge it, be with it, and let it guide you through to the first glimmerings of light and beyond.


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