We are deep into the season of Advent and deep into the darkness of fall/winter. As we approach the Winter Solstice next week, we are experiencing the shortest days and longest nights. Nature has undergone great changes–the trees bare of leaves, the animals quieter and less active, the air cooler during the day and quite cold at night. And we may have noticed that we, too, have undergone some changes with the season. We may be feeling more sedentary, less energetic, needing more rest, yearning for quiet and downtime.
Perhaps the darkness has even evoked some uneasy feelings in us. We may feel increased loneliness, maybe some sadness, or even mild depression. It can be common to have feelings of fearfulness or sorrow or even despair as our bodies and minds adjust to the long, cold nights.
And yet, even as it can feel somewhat uncomfortable, the darkness can also be a powerful, transformative time. This can be a time of deep rest, of reflection, of gestation, where something is becoming ready to be born in us, where the seeds of our spiritual growth are growing deep roots beneath the surface. As we embrace the darkness, including our own shadow elements, those things about ourselves that we don’t particularly like or that we have repressed, we may find that we, like nature, are undergoing deep transformation.
As we prepare to celebrate the Winter Solstice–the day which marks the turning point in the darkness, where the days begin to get longer and the light slowly makes its return–we may want to consider what gifts this season of darkness has brought us. Have our bodies, minds, and souls benefited from this time of deep rest? Have we become more comfortable with the stillness and the quiet? Have we come to know ourselves more deeply through this time of embracing the darkness? These are gifts that we will carry with us as we move forward into the light of the New Year. For without sorrow we would not know joy, without cold we would not know warmth, and without darkness we would not know the joy of the return of the light.
As the poem below, I Heard a Bird Sing by Oliver Herford, reminds us, we are closer now to spring than we were before. The light will return and we will be better for having known the darkness.
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember
“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December. -Oliver Herford