The winter solstice doesn’t get much attention these days. It’s a footnote to our day, if we are aware of it at all. This electric age makes the timing of the sunset nearly irrelevant. But back before electricity, when lighting up the night was not possible, outside of tiny spheres of flame-cast glow, the winter solstice was a significant turning point. It's the longest, darkest night of the year. A time for either quiet contemplation, or for celebration, (or in our view, the perfect time for a little bit of both.)
The deepest, darkest days of winter offer an invitation to observe the waning light by settling into a cycle of rest and renewal. And the solstice, in particular, is a moment in the calendar year that can serve as a prompt, a reminder to take a purposeful pause in the midst of our busy lives, to snuggle close with loved ones, to wake slowly, to head to bed earlier, or to rest in a moment of quiet reflection. Living in a technology driven culture it is easy to miss this opportunity, and fill the quiet, dark days with activity. What would it be like for you to make room in your schedule so that you could really enjoy being in the slower pace of the dark? How often do you really give yourself over to the call to rest and renewal? What would it be like if you did? How does observing the dark make way for celebrating the return of the light?
From the day after the winter solstice on, the sun stays up a little longer each day. Brighter days are just around the corner, and if we have allowed ourselves to restore our energy, we will be well prepared for longer days that lend themselves to increased activity.
So, tonight, when the sun goes down, try lighting a few candles instead of turning on the lights. Sit by the fireplace, if you have one. Pull your loved ones close. Listen to the dark. Enjoy the quiet, and the delicious anticipation of new brighter days ahead, with all the possibilities they contain.