I’ve never paid much attention to the winter solstice because I prefer the summer solstice – lots of light everywhere. I happened to be in Fairbanks, Alaska one year in late June. The sun came up at one point in the sky, then it rotated all the way around the horizon, back to the same point and dipped down for 2 hours to come right back up for a new day. Now, that’s a lot of light! And honestly, it was too much light. A week or so later I was back in the lower 48 and so glad to experience pure darkness again.
Today we experience the shortest day of the year, which means it can only go up from here. The darkness will slowly be overcome by the light – this isn’t a forever thing. But, it will take time – days, weeks and months. It doesn’t happen overnight. Patience is required when dealing with creation.
Grieving during these dark, winter months makes sense to me. It’s okay to sleep a little more, eat a little more, rest a little more. I find the darkness to be comforting. Although I don’t like getting up early, I do appreciate sitting in my reading chair before the sun is up. Although I’d rather not be outside in the cold with Denali first thing in the morning, I do appreciate the opportunity to be outside in the dark, alone, looking up at the clear sky to see the moon in all its glory and the stars shining brightly.
I know more light is on the way and I have no idea what that light will reveal. Rather than fighting the darkness, fighting the unknown ahead, I’ve decided to live into it – to embrace it, which makes it less scary. You know the lights in some grocery store frozen section aisles? They don’t come on until motion is detected. You have to walk up to the case in order for the light to come on. That’s what my life feels like right now. I’m walking in the dark, but each time I take a step forward, the light I needed for that step appears. Right now it’s just each step – at each step a new light appears. A light that gets me through the next step of uncertainty. I trust that the light will appear – I know I will not be left in the darkness forever.
Tonight we’re hosting an open house for all the volunteers who took on extra work at church while I was on sabbatical. I didn’t realize this open house would take place on the longest night of the year – I didn’t plan it that way, but I think the Universe did. On the longest night of the year – the 24 hours when there is more darkness than light – my home will be filled with light and laughter and love and compassion. For that I’m grateful.
For each little light that shines.
For each hand that reaches out.
For each text and phone call.
For each hug.
Even for the darkness.
I am grateful.