Winter Solstice: Reflection on the Longest Night of the Longest Year.

Last night was the Winter Solstice--did you see it? I found myself remembering the line from The Great Gatsby where Daisy says, "I always wait for the longest day and then miss it,"--she's referring to the June Summer Solstice, of course--and I feel that's true of me. I always miss the longest day, but never the longest night.  Winter and darkness are hard for me.

Last night we had some friends over (none of whom know each other; Ian and I were their link), to celebrate the solstice. We asked everyone to bring a little piece of writing to share, either something they had written or something another had written about darkness, light, solstice, winter.  It was beautiful.  We gathered and ate and then shared a bit.

The piece I shared is below--I also read 2 letters that students wrote me last week.  Without going into too many details, last week was a difficult one for me and many of my colleagues and students. We had a student killed in a car accident on the East Beltline, and it was a student to whom I was very close. His death was sudden and senseless and it hurt us all deeply. I shared with my kids on Friday how much this hurt me, and I cried in front of them. Several students wrote me letters about this and I shared with my friends some of their words. Sometimes young people have such a better grasp of how to process tragedy, don't they?

I liked this reading because it reminded me to take some refuge in darkness and difficulty. Sometimes that is a needed reminder.

This is an abbreviated excerpt of "A Celebration of Winter Solstice" fromThe Circle of Life by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr.

"There is a tendency to want to hurry from autumn to spring, to avoid the long dark days that winter brings. Many people do not like constant days bereft of light and months filled with colder temperatures. They struggle with the bleakness of land and the emptiness of trees. Their eyes and hearts seek color. Their spirits tire of tasting the endless gray skies. There is great rejoicing in the thought that light and warmth will soon be filling more and more of each new day.

"But winter darkness has a positive side to it. As we gather to celebrate the first turn from winter to spring, we are invited to recognize and honor the beauty in the often unwanted season of winter. Let us invite our hearts to be glad for the courage winter proclaims. Let us be grateful for the wisdom winter brings in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal. Let us also encourage our spirits as Earth prepares to come forth from this time of withdrawal into a season filled with light.

"The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight. Soon we will welcome the return of the sun and the coming of springtime. As we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects of winter's darkness. Pause now to sit in silence in the darkness of this space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you."