Today marks the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. On this darkest day of the year, the pivotal moment between dark and light, it is the perfect time to honor the darkness that has come into our lives. It is a time to honor those who have been lost and to remember them with love. It is a time to honor the struggle and the perseverance of those who are on a challenging journey and to honor ourselves and other loved ones who have also found a way through the darkness.
In honoring the darkness and in grieving the losses we have endured, we bring those moments into the light. When we bring them into the light, they are no longer hiding in the shadows, lurking in shame, or hidden in silence. We claim and name our experience. We see it for what it has been. We presence it.
When we do this, we are able to step forward into the light. Just as the days begin to get longer with a bit more light from tomorrow on, we too can begin to bring more light into our homes and our beings.
Addiction, cancer, mental illness (to name a few) are painful diseases, as you undoubtedly know. They affect everyone in their wake and can take down entire families with the weight of suffering.
However (and this is a big however), the journey into darkness does not have to take us out forever. It is possible to find hope, joy, peace, love, and to create a brighter tomorrow, even when we have been impacted by a loved one's disease.
If you are reading this, you are alive, and for that fact alone there is reason to celebrate. You have been given the opportunity to live one more day. What will you do with this one precious life you have been given? How will you set your soul free to express itself? What is uniquely yours to do?
Is there some way to honor your journey up to this very moment--the good, the bad, and the ugly, the full messiness of it all? The painful, the joyous, the fearfulness, and the hope? Whatever it’s looked like in the past, today marks a new day, albeit a short one. Tomorrow offers the light of fresh possibility, as each day does. How do you want to step into tomorrow?
If we are able to find a way to turn our pain (or darkness) into possibility (or light), we can transform these heavy experiences into something that serve and support us and others. We can show up for life more fully. We can become who we were born to be. With each loss I experience I also experience a fresh resolve to live this life even more fully.
Let’s face it, the past 3 years have carried a full load of darkness, collectively, along with anything that you might have experienced personally.
For many the holidays are emotionally-charged times and may bring in a healthy mix of emotions… sadness, joy, celebration, loneliness. I know I will be feeling both sadness for those who are not with us during this holiday season as well as joy and gratitude for those who are.
There is room for it all. When we allow ourselves to feel it all, to allow our hearts to carry this messy mix of what makes us human, we are able to move through it.
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brene Brown
So, let this pivotal day be a day that marks the honoring of both the dark and the light. Let us take a step back and look at the big picture of our lives and recognize that our experiences have not been all good or all bad, but rather a mix of both.
These diseases can entomb us with their heavy cloak of darkness if we let them, but we can choose to lift up the corner of that cloak and peek outside. We can lay down the heaviness and step into the light. We get to choose.
We may well prefer the moments of lightness, light-heartedness, and light in general, but there is also a gift to receive during the dark and challenging times. We must be willing to sit with this part of our reality if we are to truly enjoy the light.
I have found that it is in the dark where I have grown the most. I wonder if that might be true for you as well. I offer you this poem for consideration.
The Places We Grow
It’s in the dark,
in the shadows,
where we stretch and grow.
We face ourselves
and see a new or forgotten aspect,
a piece we’d rather ignore or deny.
But there it is…
staring us down,
daring us to change,
to find a new way,
or to simply come into acceptance.
Sometimes it’s about overcoming
Finding a way to do this with
and gentle communion.
Honoring the self…
who I am,
where I am,
what I need,
what my baggage is.
And stepping into a deeper layer,
excavating and shifting,
allowing new light in,
and new hope out.
These are the places we grow –
and nourished with tears.
© Barb Klein, 2016, “The Places We Grow,” from 111 Invitations: Step into the Full Richness of Life
Where and how can you nourish yourself today? How might you allow some new light in--to your being, to your life? How can you allow a little more hope to shine into the world?
Begin by greeting yourself exactly where you are--gently, with tenderness, care, and compassion. Offer yourself the space and grace to feel into what’s alive within your heart at this moment. Ask your heart what it needs at this moment to be truly nurtured and nourished. Then respond accordingly. You deserve your own loving care.
We are on the cusp of a new year and we can only hope that 2023 is bringing with it new possibility, hope, and fresh beginnings. Today let’s pause. Let’s look at our lives and our loved ones with reverence. Let’s honor this journey where we have walked, crawled, and stumbled while we look ahead to the light of new creativity. Let’s let this darkest day of the year—December 21-- be a personal pivotal moment for us to enter an illuminated future.