Today is solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year. We’re as far as the sun as we’re going to get. And tomorrow we come get just a bit closer to the sun again.
In this cold, dark time of year, it can sometimes feel that the outer darkness reflects our inner world. And when we read the news, we may be filled with anxiety and a sense of doom, as if there were only one story to be told.
It’s no wonder that throughout history at this dark time of year, people around the world have celebrations of light: Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa all celebrate the miracle of light in dark times.
These holidays remind us that the world we see around us when we look out our window is not the only world, that there are other stories to tell.
The practice of writing can also remind us of the power of light, of rebirth in darkness, or miracles when it seems that the light is running low.
Unfortunately, our society often overlooks the creative side of our traditions. The holidays become times to buy and eat more.
But rather than consume more external things, we can treat this dark time as an invitation to wonder and re-ignite our own internal fire.
If we want to ignite our inner fire, we need to go inward. It is true that what we might find there may be our own darkness, not just the reflection of others’ darkness. But if we sit with our own pain, we will also be able to sit with our own wonder and process of transformation, which is its own kind of light.
Writing is a great way to spark this inner work. So even in this busy holidays season, take some time to get comfortable and settle down with a pen and paper.
I want to share with you one of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus translated by Stephen Mitchell, a fine poet himself. This is one of my favorite poems.
If the drinking bitter, change yourself to wine,” the poem recommends. This poem is full of many great lines, and I invite you to read it several times; each time you’ll notice something new.
And then take out your pen and write 🙂
Silent Friend of Many Distances…
Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face
grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.
In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.
And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.
I hope that you can feel your own fullness of being and that you, too, can “let your presence ring out like a bell into the night.”
Wishing you very happy holidays!