Where I live in western New York, the sun sets around 4:15 pm these days. You can often hear me complaining that I need to put on a headlamp to walk my dog in the mornings and also the afternoons. We are all waiting for the longer days to return; we celebrate with lighted trees, malls and kitchens.
But poet Mary Oliver takes a different view on this when she writes, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” What, darkness a gift??? In our UU Wellspring groups we take the Mary Oliver approach in our Solstice gatherings. While we love the light, we talk about what the darkness has taught us. What has incubated in us during the dark or quiet or fallow times. How, in hindsight, the darkness has been our friend.
OK, I do still complain about walking the dog in the dark. But thanks to UU Wellspring and Mary Oliver, I don’t just complain about this time of the shortest days. I’ve learned to sit in the dark, rest in it, go inward, and ask myself questions like, “What do I need to let go of?, or “What is invisibly taking root in me?”, or “How can I find respite?”
May you take some quiet time in this season to ponder questions like these! Happy Solstice!