The Shortest Day
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us — Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, tonight will be the longest night of the year. The dark is heavy around us and for many it is very cold. This absence of light can lead many of us to feel depressed, tangled up in some winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For many more of us, there is a metaphor in the idea of the darkest night. It may encapsulate how we feel about the world right now, or our own lives.
And yet, from this point onward, we will slowly start to move into the light. We will gain about 1.5-2 minutes of light every day we move past today's Winter Solstice. It will not be noticeable at first. But slowly, slowly the days will begin to feel lighter.
This incremental movement into the light can also be a metaphor. It can be a symbol of how one small action - one act of self care, one act of advocacy - can move each of us towards our own light.
I love that poem above by Susan Cooper because it reflects all of those small but meaningful things we can do to nurture our own light in the darkness. And perhaps why our ancestors brought so much celebration to these dark nights.
So, I invite you to think for yourself what your own self care and nurturing might be.
Consider taking yourself on a walk. Or gifting yourself a relaxing bath.
Maybe it will be trying out a luxurious lotion or making a new and exciting meal.
Maybe it is warm soup, or cozy blankets. The snuggle of a pet or the arms of loved one.
Maybe it is volunteering your time to support someone else. Or gifting something to someone in need.
Maybe it's talking with family, friends or seeking out the ear of a therapist
Don't tell yourself what you think it 'should' be, or compare your needs to others. Don't lose yourself in the frenzy of material gifting.
Take advantage of the quiet stillness of the dark and ask your deepest self, "how can I comfort you?" How can I care for you?"
And then give yourself that gift.