Happy Solstice! On this shortest day and longest night of the year, autumn’s harvest season ends and winter begins. Nearby, a wonderful local bookstore hosts the Point Reyes Books annual reading, named after Wendell Berry‘s “To Know the Dark”:
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
Each year around the winter solstice, I go to the sea to take time to remember my father, who died 35 years ago. The ocean was his passion and he passed that love to me. At home we light candles and drink toasts to him, honoring his memory by reading poems he loved.
This year has been more difficult than most. After our election delivered a devastating loss, it’s natural to feel despair – but dangerous to do so for too long, when our friends and neighbors and fellow humans across the world will need help and protection, governance and issues will need vigilant activism in our communities. Maybe above all, this is a time for self-examination.
A dark night of the soul, the existential crisis when we confront the shadows within ourselves and use this time for reckoning, is a time for turning inward and contemplation before girding ourselves for the coming year. In what is traditionally the season of death, the earth still keeps turning on its axis, there still returns the lengthening of days, and preparation for the new growing season. In that, there is always hope.