Longing for Light

Well, here we are, in the “darkest” time of the year. But let’s be honest, this whole year has felt pretty dark. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the things that may be contributing to that:

Yes, the pandemic. I honestly don’t know one person who isn’t experiencing some form of pandemic burn-out (in addition to many other flavors of burn-out). I realized recently, that for a long time, I (we?) had a fair amount of hope in the vaccine roll-out… that the rollout of the vaccine would end the pandemic or at least significantly lessen its grip. But that hasn’t been the case. Which has been heavy and dark. And without going down that rabbit hole, to add to it, the reasons the vaccine roll-out didn’t quite land where we had hoped aren’t making me feel much brighter personally or collectively.

Additionally, as I’ve mentioned before (and is the topic of many spiritual and astrological phenomena), it seems that in the past couple of years, the momentum at which challenging truths arise for us to look at has sped up exponentially – collective truths about our society and its inhabitants, and individual truths about who we are and how we’re showing up in the world. I have personally felt like I have been in spiritual growth bootcamp (although I am in seminary so that’s surely a contributing factor – ha!) I do have hope that this seeming firehose of exposure and subsequent growth (hopefully) is leading to shifts that will alter our collective and individual paths forward. But let’s be honest – being in it can be exhausting, overwhelming, defeating and sometimes depressing. It can feel dark and heavy.

So this year, during the “darkest time of the year,” it feels particularly poignant to notice and acknowledge the darkness, the heaviness. Because it isn’t just a dark time of year that we’re in. This “season of darkness” has been lasting longer than a few months.

I long for lightness – for resolution, for connection, for ease, for flow. But I know it isn’t something that I can convince myself to experience or be in (believe me, I’ve tried). So in this time of darkness, I am focusing on the possibility that perhaps this extreme darkness is what is needed for the light to actually arrive and for me/us to notice it. And we need to trust that. I actually learned recently that the archaic definition of “hope” is actually “to trust.” What an amazing idea – to trust that the light will come even if we can’t see it yet.

This process of trusting feels like something the Jewish people do extraordinarily well. They have sustained such extreme “seasons” of darkness, maintained their faith and experienced miracles as a result. And that is what Hannukah is all about. Sometimes called The Festival of Lights, it celebrates their faith sustaining them to reclaim their holy temple, and the miracle that a single cruse of oil was able to light a lamp for eight days (it definitely shouldn’t have been lit that long). The timing of the celebration aptly occurs in the Northern Hemisphere around the darkest time of the year – reminding us that miracles of light beyond human rational possibility are possible in the darkness.

This is also the time of year when Christians celebrate Advent leading up to Christmas. According to many scholars, Jesus wasn’t actually born in December (more likely in the spring, June or October). It’s possible that the church chose December 25th to seemingly overlap with the pagan Winter Solstice, but I choose to look at the implication not the intent of the date that was chosen. That in the time of darkness (again, northern hemisphere), “light” will be born. Despite not believing that Jesus saved me (because I don’t believe we need saving), he represents love, light, redemption, meaning and connection. And some believe that Christ energy is within each of us, so this time of year is about that energy being reborn, returning to it and remembering it is within us. It is a time of trusting in and connecting with that which is beyond our understanding.

And the most directly connected holiday to how I’ve been feeling is Winter Solstice. This pagan holiday honors the darkness and celebrates the rebirth of the Sun. During the winter, the ground lays fallow and there is much that is dying and composting to make way for the new growth that will arise in the Spring. Much the same process can happen within each of us. As Gary Zukav puts it, “The winter solstice… a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.”

Because this time carries such meaning, as well as feeling the depth of the darkness this year accompanied by an equally deep hope (trust) for the light, I will be hosting a Winter Solstice ritual again on zoom. The Solstice is on December 21st, but this gathering will be on the evening of December 20th to allow for you to move through the day of Solstice with reflection and intention. This will be an interfaith/interspiritual ritual, so no matter the religion, background, understanding or preferences, you are welcome. You can sign up for the call here.

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate (if any) this season, I am sending you love and companionship in your experience of darkness, as well as trust that the light will arise in ways we cannot expect. Although we cannot control how it will arise, we can notice it when it does – whether it was seeing a menorah in your home or in a window, through a glimmer in the sky (the meteor shower was beautiful last night and I know it is supposed to be better tonight), an adorned christmas tree full of memories and joy, the laughter of a beloved family member, the embrace of a loved one, a snowflake on your nose, a moment you feel lighter just because, or a miracle you don’t expect.

May you allow for your darkness while simultaneously trusting light will appear, and honor it when it does.

In love and trust in light,

Devin Green
The Connected Way