Returning to the Dark

Black kitty with starsI will love the light for it shows me the way,

yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars. ~ Og Mandino

Today is the shortest (darkest) day of the entire year.

It is the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere and the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year) in the Southern hemisphere.  I love the balance of that, the yin and yang of Mother Earth’s rhythms and rituals.  I love the notion that the scales of good and bad, dark and light, right and wrong will eventually balance. The way that things feel out of sync simply indicates a need to re-balance the scales. One way or another, that will occur.

Go Gentle into that Good Night.

Because of my recent accident I am being especially gentle with myself right now. I am making food for my inner child (jell-o, macaroni and cheese, hot cocoa) and saying no without an ounce of guilt, to anything that feels draining. My doctor told me I’d be tired for about six months (as a result of the anesthesia from surgery) and that my face would remain swollen and sensitive for at least two more months. I feel incredibly blessed in that I can take this down time to recover. Hibernation seems to be the order of the day. So, I’ve retreated into my cave (house) where I can best nurture and handle the needs of my slow recuperation.

Stars. Stars. A dome of stars.

I’ve often navigated dark patches in my life. What I realize most about those times — when looking back — is that many of my deepest insights came from my sojourns into darkness. I remember reading Dante’s Inferno in college and being struck by the literal aspect of that journey. Anyone who has ever felt loss or grief, or the hot fire of hurt or anger, knows the halls of hell. No ticket is required. You don’t have to venture far to find it.  Go to the inner city and you’ll see it sleeping over heating grates under piles of soggy cardboard. You’ll see hell in the eyes of abandoned animals caged up in our ‘shelters,’ where for most of them, the only home they’re going to is the landfill. You can easily visit hell in our prisons or reform schools or on the back roads of the seamier side of life: the sex trade, violence, crime, poverty. Darkness is a part of life, a treacherous part, but also an aspect that, as Og Mandino says, ‘shows us the stars.’ We must navigate the dark, in order to really value the light. We need the juxtaposition of the two to render us humble and grateful and more sure of our own direction.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Sometimes having no plan is a good plan.

So, here we are, on the darkest day of the year, returning to the root of the root of the root, digging into the moist soil of life, ready to drop seeds that will flower in spring. As many people scatter and flounder under the pressures of consumerism and the greed of the holiday, I plan to finish writing and then nestle under a pile of blankets, with a coffee and a good book, while admiring the white lights on the Christmas tree and the shadows crossing my backyard.

Those are my ambitious plans for the day. Yep. That’s it.

To everything there is a season.

I ponder the gifts of darkness: silence, sleep, dreams, solace, rejuvenation, germination, growth. I realize the importance of not pushing the seedling to punch through the ground too quickly. A birth cannot be rushed. Everything in its time. Everything ripens and opens when ready. Everything possesses the inner knowing to emerge at the right moment.

These are slow days, days that call on our patience, our strength, our ability to wait.

Not forever, but for a while.

I don’t know about you, but I am OK with that. I have plenty of reserves to get me through the coal-black days of winter. And in the meantime, I can revisit and revise, I can re-work and re-envision, I can remember and return to my most secret and silent self. There’s something to be said for being truly willing to hold hands with our own darkness.

It can teach us to see the world anew.

***

Happy Solstice to my readers throughout the world.  May peace on earth prevail and love be our first and only choice.

© 2013  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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