A few weeks ago I gathered friends around my fireplace on my comfy couch and we celebrated Winter Solstice together. There are many traditions around solstice that include feasts or staying up all night or burning a ceremonial log. But our small gathering was my own interpretation of honoring the longest night of the year.
We gathered as friends and talked about the importance of winter. Mother Nature sends seeds and little animals to burrow and rest. This season of withering and barrenness seems drab and dull and lifeless, but it’s all for a purpose.
The earth needs a rest.
When spring comes around and the flowers start to bloom and buds poke out of what was a naked branch, there is a sense of gratitude and renewed hope for a new season. Here in this northern part of the world, a quiet winter is simply an assurance that a blooming spring will be next. Colors and blossoms and life await.
I led a meditation about this idea of a dark winter in our lives. Hard times show up. Some hard times are expected and don’t surprise us. But sometimes dark winters show up out of nowhere and take us completely by surprise. You can’t live this life without experiencing the hard and dark times. I used to believe that when hard times and darkness showed up, it was because of something I did, a direct correlation to how I was living my life. But I know better now. Sometimes life is hard just because it is part of existing on this earth. No one can escape it.
But we don’t need to be afraid of the darkness that comes to us. The coldness of hard times. The winter storms that can rage in our lives. There really is nothing to fear. There can be a sacredness to the darkness. This is something I have learned first hand.
The darkness can be a gift. It is an opportunity to rest. It is a chance to heal. It is a time when we can sit in the dark cold and wait. It can be within this patience that we can truly recognize the warmth and light. Even if it is in the smallest increments, like one more minute of light a day.
Spring will come again. And when we start to see the color and blossoms and brightness, our hearts will know it’s real and genuine because we did not hide or shy away from the winter. We sat in it and we waited. We had patience through the cold and dark. We thanked God for a chance to grow and be better. Our hearts brighter and more colorful, perhaps with a larger capacity to love and be loved because we rested and waited and did not will the winter to go away. We sat in it and said, thank you.