Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest day of the year, and I welcome the darkness. It conjures my childhood in New England, safe in my parents home. Also the long days of studying for college exams, my anxious brain fully occupied by the rigors of organic chemistry. And then, huddling by the heater in our Maine apartment, ocean view through icy windows. 

Darkness is for hibernation and reflection, for waiting and for resting. But for many, the longest nights are the hardest, long lonely stretches without the warmth and companionship of sunlight. Sometimes the hope is hard to feel. So I offer this reading, adapted from sermons by Bill Dols and Douglas S. Long:
Since forever, the winter solstice has marked that moment in darkness when the light is reborn. The world tilts, the days slowly begin to lengthen again, and a glimmer of hope appears. When the morning solstice light first strikes, the dead of winter is past and the god of life is returning.
The truth of light breaking through at the darkest hour of the longest night spans history and crosses continents. It is also as close as the sighing of a broken heart when a dream is shattered, a hope broken, a promise violated and trust breached, a marriage unraveling or dead, a body aching and diseased, and when death comes to claim those who we love and need the most. The sacred moment is not when darkness flees or vanishes but when finally, after a long winter, the light is rekindled in the darkness and even the dimmest possibility of new life awakens.
The dimmest possibility of new life... that seems achievable. We are not waiting for perfect. We are waiting for hope.

This week I found great hope in the idea of kindness. Sometimes I can't muster love, or even acceptance, and this feels like a failure. But even through the hazy lens of self-centeredness, I can often muster some kindness. On the receiving end, it feels a lot like love.

This year I had the great privilege of turning inward and offering myself some kindness, in the form of honesty and writing this blog and engaging a whole team of doctors and therapists. I found some answers, with names like sensory processing disorder and (most recently) under-treated hypothyroidism. And this is all good. This is not a tragedy, and I'm getting better.

Thank you to each friend, known and unknown, for the kindness of reading along. You are not alone, and neither am I.

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