i’ve been preparing for the winter solstice for days, even weeks, anticipating it with excitement, thinking + pondering + feeling + reading all of the signs in my life. listening to my soul. observing nature. slowing down + letting the dark mornings i’ve spent alone before the sun rises wrap around me like a warm blanket. today, however, the solstice is finally upon us northern hemisphere dwellers. the night has finally come.
and it is the longest night of the year. which, by itself, sounds like a drawn out tortuous day of darkness + boredom. in reality, however, it is a day of beauty and celebration. a day of warmth and hope and energy and light. how interesting is that? the longest, darkest night of the year brings us light + hope. but, it’s true, i believe. though the daylight hours are short, and the night seems to go on forever, with the darkness engulfing us, it is only because it is the longest night that we make the turn toward light. beginning tomorrow, the light returns to this part of the earth. from here on out, until the summer solstice, the days are longer and the sun shines a minute or two more each and every day. this day, that seems so hopeless, is actually filled with possibility. a day for dreaming dreams and setting intentions. a day for leaving behind all of the things of the previous year, harnessing the energy that the light brings, and celebrating the newness that comes with a new year.
of course, in order to endure this dark time of year, it is necessary to create as much coziness as possible. it’s the perfect time to light candles and string up twinkle lights. to warm ourselves with toasty drinks of mulled wine + cider. to decorate our homes with greenery, lest we forget that underneath all of the cold + snow + dark, life still exists. and even though we are inside during most of this time of the year, if we gather together, we can feel the glow of love, the energy of life, moving between us. and, if we dare to stand or sit outside in the middle of the darkness for just a minute, if we find the courage to embrace the darkness, then we learn how much the dark has to teach us, and we understand the beauty of the night.
i have celebrated this winter solstice very simply. i began the day by taking part in our little family advent candle lighting ritual. an little moment meant to acknowledge that we are still journeying toward christmas, that we are still seeking love and light.
and then, after doing some errands (and christmas shopping on my own!), lina and i prepared a dinner for our parents. yes, the joy of this season, one that i did not realize would be quite as moving as it is, is that we are celebrating this holiday with both of our parents. it is so amazing. we picked up loan’s parents at the airport last night, and spent our first day together today – just resting and relaxing, so they could get over some jet lag. but, we decided to invite my parents over for dinner.
the six of us gathered around our dining table, eating food + drinking wine/beer, reacquainting ourselves with each other, laughing, joking, and sharing the simple pleasures of a family gathering. i had no idea how much this would affect me, how emotional i would be to be able to celebrate and share this time with each other.
after dinner, i snuck away for a few minutes by myself on the balcony. this was going to be the heart of my solitary solstice celebration. i took a candle out, wrapped myself in a big blanket, and grabbed my journal + a pen. i must have sat outside in the near-freezing temperature for about 30 minutes. the air was cold, but i was warm. i sat and thought. i wrote, and i gazed at the light of the candle, flickering in the darkness. i fell the hope of a new season, a new year, new opportunities. i jotted down something that i knew i needed to leave behind now. i gave up and left some old patterns of thinking and ways of being. and i harnessed the energy inside me that will carry me throughout this next phase in my life.
now, the apartment is quiet. i’m back inside, warm and toasty. the tree is lit and a christmas movie plays in the background. everyone else is in bed. there is a wonderful sense of rest + calm in my home. and i know, that when the sun rises tomorrow, the light will have returned. yes, it is very, very dark now – in the middle of the nigh – but, i feel at peace. i feel present and alive and ready. but, i am not in a hurry. i’ll let the darkness be as it is right now – and i’ll simply be aware + embrace it.
tomorrow, the light returns again.