Tonight marks the Winter Solstice, the moment when the earth is furthest from the sun in its orbit and night is at its longest. Little wonder that this moment falls close to the point where we mark the end of the year. Throughout man’s history, this has been a time to note because after this, night grows shorter, the days grow longer — and the promise of spring and a new growing season is at hand. That’s still a ways away, but we know it’s coming.
But it’s a hard time as well. The stresses are piling on us as the 25th approaches, and we can keenly feel the weight of expectations. We struggle with diets, schedules, relatives (do not get me started), balancing work and family, struggling to carve out time for ourselves. Nor is the news we hear good. 2015 seems to be a litany of misery with disasters, terrorism, tragedies both personal and global, and a lead-up to next year’s elections that often seems like a very bad sitcom. Personally, I’ve had major upheavals in my home and work life that have long term impacts and both of which are contributing significantly to holiday stress. And, as always, there are empty chairs in the circle which we know will never be filled again and the loss pains us.
At this time of year, we are also bathed in lights that hold back the darkness, even if only for the moment. There is kindness, often unexpected gestures that warm our hearts and make the day a little bit brighter. There are moments to make us smile. It is a time to keep those we hold most dear close to us, whether in person or in the warmth of memories. If we open ourselves to it, there is joy and hope. We have to reach for it, though.
So, as we face this longest night, light a candle against the darkness. Let other candles be lit from yours. As long as we keep the flame going and do not surrender to the night, there is hope, both big and small.
Light a candle, for we know that spring will come again.