The days have been long and dark here in northern Michigan. As we approach the Winter Solstice, the sun rises at 7:58 a.m. and sets at 5:03 p.m., providing only 8 short hours of daylight. Now, the darkest time of the year begins to transform itself to become more light-filled.
As "spiritual beings having a human experience" (a phrase attributed to Teilhard de Chardin), I believe we are constantly re-aligning ourselves with the sun, the light within us, and the light of Spirit. The celebration of Winter Solstice happens the world over in a myriad of ways that is simply stunning to read about. From the Dongzhi Festival in Japan to Seva Zistane in Kurdistan. No matter how it is celebrated, the theme is the same--we celebrate the return of the light.
Each year, as the days of December darken the landscape, I light a perpetual candle. It's a liturgical sort of candle, one purchased at a quaint Catholic goods store; a tall purple glass holder with replaceable plastic inserts of wax and wick, safe to keep burning 24-hours a day. It's the same sort of candle you'd light in the back of church for the purpose of petitionary prayer. It stays aglow through the month of December--my version of an Advent candle, if you will.
What I love the most about this annual ritual is this: If I awaken in the middle of the night and have to move about, the candle's tender glow is there in the darkness, an ever-present reminder to me of the presence of Spirit--even in the darkest of times, even on the blackest of nights.
I do not fear this period of wintery darkness as some do. In fact, I take it in and allow it to works its magic upon me. One of the themes of the season of Winter is "fertile darkness." It is a time of going inward, of cozying down into one's self to relish the silence, or play with the Muse, and listen. For me, as a writer, this time is vital to my creative and spiritual well-being.
Though my external landscape is very wintery right now, covered thick with the white stuff, my beloved garden gone from view, beneath the surface much is happening. There is life. Seeds are gestating. Things are also gestating beneath the soil within me. My interior landscape is rich with growth. And though somedays it feels a bit dark, and I feel unsure, I do trust the well-timed beauty of my own growth. I cannot urge the season away. I cannot make the sun shine more brightly until it is time. But I can light the fire of my inner life and allow it room to breathe, to glow, to grow ...
As Winter Solstice moves through you, what is gestating in you?
Do you have a sense of what is being birthed in you right now?
I'm eager to hear ...
Join me for a Mini-Retreat celebrating this season of dark and light!
Soon I'll be offering the 2nd installment in the series on "The Seasons of My Soul." The focus is "Winter," and we'll be exploring the spiritual invitations of winter: going within, stillness, fertile darkness (creativity), and tending the light within.
Sunday, January 17, Inn at the Rustic Gate, Big Rapids, MI
Click here to learn more.
I'd love to see you there!
(Image: "Playing with the North Wind" by Susan Seddon Boulet)