The Invitation of Light and Dark
Fall forward, Spring backward, goes the maxim. It is such a paradox of words. Other than hibernating that one extra hour of sleep for the winter, I am not an overall fan of daylight savings time altogether, and certainly not at this time of year. November days are short and the dark is a deep dark that is an indecipherable black. This time of year has everyone, I notice, searching for those extra bits of Light.
There was a phenomenal super moon a few November weeks ago and everyone, no matter where we found ourselves across the planet, celebrated the beauty of this mystical light shining its face to us in the deep dark. We were amazed by the moon’s beauty flooding us with such a distinct, warming hello within the deep night sky. That excitement and wonder we felt is what a Divine Source sees in us. I really believe that.
About that time, I was trying to step into my light of creating this blog and naturally, (especially that it’s me), I was as afraid of some things and as much anticipating my wherewithal to some dark. Someone significant in my life, a good light force all of her own, was enjoying the super moon along with me in her own way at the opposite end of the coast, and sent me a photo of her outstretched hand holding the full face of beautiful moonlight to steady me on.
What she in effect was saying to me through the image she captured is that I am both sun and moon. I have that light force within my being at all times, as you.
At once, I understood that no matter the unknown deeper spaces, I, like the moon, could still be a great healing friend to all matter in the skies being forecasted. By holding up to the best of my being as humbly as the moon is to the sun, and no matter the hard work, I could hold out for the gentler moments of shining my light regardless and enjoy a resilience of climbing over, under and through an unfamiliar challenge.
True, it is sometimes harder for us to see well or even notice good in dark, but it’s there. Dark forces us to see more deeply and to get to deeper truths for happiness within. I quite like it, and I appreciate the communion.
About this time in the Northern and Western Hemispheres, the day turns to evening by four in the afternoon, some days even earlier. This is as true for Montreal as it is for “sunny’” Florida where shadows cascade the landscape by the mid-point of the afternoon. If the sun isn’t out during the day, or hazily so if at all, the land about us can feel that much more stark. If lucky, though, there is no greater joy I can find than beholding the sun glory at noon on my walks with Theo to the summit forest or welcoming a sparkly friendly force filtering my home at the height of day while I write. What can you notice about the light at this time of year where you are?
Where I am, winter sunlight is beautifully crystal at times and there often is a crisp clarity breaking into the skies that dispels the gloomy haze; and, when the snows blanket the forest and grace the streets in a fluffy clean peacefulness as it is doing today, the forest gown can be magical, especially in the way it refracts its own special Light of a playful quietude married to a calming gratitude between the trees.
I appreciate this darkness, this going within. The shorter days of winter no matter where I find myself indeed communicates a holy gift.
This “darker” time of year has me ask what practices I can embrace within my day that can help me keep my internal light on no matter any outside force. I say this completely aware that we are also approaching the darkest day of the year quite soon. This very inner “growing” towards the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, has me understand that I am a solitary flame that can light up the darkness into a beautiful meaningfulness, and I appreciate that constant returning.
At night, I am as animated watching a holy field of snowflakes blanketing into the softest of paper over the garden as much as I am beholding the beautiful illuminations of the snows swirling like specks of human starlight within the halo of the city street lamps. Be it the shorter day or the longer night, both facets of a calming beauty show me a world into small stories of good that need a bit of my help to be even more beautifully revealed. Standing still to winter has me appreciate how much hidden light and hidden marks of beauty become concealed, and aren’t both equally vital and valid containers of what we also carry within?
Some people, I notice tend to say that the winter is harsh and that it requires a necessary escapism of some kind to be better survived. Yet, I find a broader gentleness being offered through the light-dark equation of the winter season that is both holy and freeing. A dark sky conceals; but as the super moon demonstrated to us, find a deeper beauty within it and there is much to be revealed.
The invitation of winter’s quiet and its storybook into new creations of a more interior coziness and playfulness also strike me as a match for a longer good. When the winter sunlight streams in by day, it is gloriously peaceful to write by. I can be in flow and feel hugely released that I am not missing anything. I can steep myself into a sweet time in which I connect to myriad ways of appreciating those extra little hugs that soothe and that I often gloss by in other seasons. Yes, we need to become imaginative and more restfully gentle with ourselves all at the same time. How divine.
Did you also ever notice that when a lamp creates a pool of light that it also casts as great a shadow? Somehow, if not very often, people feel that if they have some dark to plough through it signifies to them that they must be far away from light. Light cannot appear without a step through some dark. The deeper the dark we find ourselves in, the greater the possibility for our souls to find an expanse into light.
Stop for a second with me, if you can. Some illimitability of your soul is that super moon. It’s another reason why I find the winter solstice challenges a very divine gift to my soul.
Winter with her skirt in shorter days, her withholding of light, her deeper darkness, is a wonderful gentle teacher of practice— for by climbing past a dark, be it external or internal, we grow into that possibility, that opportunity to discover our finer marks within, and enter into a space that moves us one step closer to our appreciating unique shards within ourselves and each other of an otherwise not immediately noticeable light. When it gets darker, we have to seek out noticing our shine a little more! When we feel off, we need to try a little harder to feel on. I thank the winter for that wonderful invitation each time.
I have a friend who escapes for the Florida winter, yes a snowbird, and from whom I get the sense feels very badly for me that I am “stuck” in the cold. Perhaps there is also a degree of him believing that his situation is the one to be envied. And yet, it is underestimated how warmed I or anyone can become at this seasonal time anyway no matter the body is not necessarily greeting the day in as outward a display of natural sunlight. Sunshine is great. How I do love the ocean and warm air. Both are so beautifully healing. And yet, even in this truth another greater truth is that the sun we each carry within no matter the inclement of weather is always there.
Rather than look out, why not reach in? And isn’t it also true that a rainy day wherever you are across the globe can be as rewardingly healing if we just let it? What if we just didn’t depend on the outside sunshine to have feel a ray of light awakening our body and soul or pulling us more easily into a space of gratitude? And what if we didn’t wait on a beautiful day for greater permission towards our expressions into relaxation or exuberance? What if we found ways to be connected to the sun within and let the weather reward us in place of the other way around?
I know many people who ski the winter instead. There are some segments of the population who can’t. So how will you have winter reward you? Don’t you also know of many people living in a sunnier spot who don’t exactly feel a sunny sense of belonging each day?
No matter the destination we embark on in our day, it is important that we learn to be okay in our skin wherever we are. True inner peace means steadying to this no matter the season or what any outside weather may present to our day.
I don’t know about you but a bright burst of day has me feel hope and a dark day into night can have me find deeper spaces for praise. Winter’s play between light and dark lets me know that when I affirm light no matter the dark and have the courage to praise a good in what can’t be immediately seen, I become as miraculous as the light I search for along with it. This very leaning into the solstice period allows me to discover what sleeps underneath the frozen ground and within the numb spaces I don’t attend to within myself. Every day it asks me to find a space of unspoken light so I can gently extend with it. It has me hibernate quietly to its restful goodness and it makes of me a better Spring.
Indeed, every day when we wake up our bodies give thanks that there is light and every night before bed our bodies thank that there is dark. A wisdom in our souls thanks that both light and dark has been formed for us. We cannot be complete to a full day or to the complete spectrum of life unless we partake through both passages.
Once upon a time I had this enormous very loving lesson to contend with, and it’s the very withholding of getting to a sunny spot that had me realize that I had the ability to travel beautifully within and feel blessed within my space each time anyway. I wasn’t allowed to travel anywhere for close to four years. I was pretty much confined to bed rest with few outings. It had me realize geography is a gift and that the greatest geographical sureness resides in me. I am one who has learned to appreciate that my “home” within is the best place to be because that is where you can find me. Less outer guideposts of sunlight while sitting in more winter dark means a deeper conversation; and it means a fortunate and beautiful conversation of love and kindness with myself.
What will you tell yourself if you don’t get to travel or go somewhere this holiday season and what will you tell yourself if you do? What about the adventure in deeply appreciating the sweet light and the wise dark within ourselves? There is great joy in being a master to your own illumination.
I’d just like to mention here that one of my favorite getaway places is a movie house, the darkest space you can find, and where in the company of other revellers I can enter a story that has me understand a deeper refraction of some unspoken light. Clearly, we can find experiences of a healthy communion in both light and dark.
We needn’t necessarily travel far away at all to find calm and peace and belonging with a bit of steady sunshine. I believe that the greatest geographical destination to be in company with all these wonderful things can be reliantly found within. And if you don’t believe me, just look up and behold the magic of the moon.
All photography by Marina Mashaal except where otherwise noted.