For many of us in December, it is easy to become lost in the busyness of the holiday season. We are shopping, baking, traveling, wrapping, caroling and often have more to do than we could ever accomplish. But the holidays are not the only important thing that is happening this month. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the winter solstice — the time of year when the outer world is the darkest. The winter solstice is a day where we can utilize this time of great darkness to shed light upon any fears or emotions that we have buried within ourselves. The solstice can serve as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, the light will return. As the American author and spiritual teacher, Gary Zukav states, "The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory."
Winter is a time of barren darkness and, for many of us, spending time alone in the dark can make us feel anxious or alone. It’s almost as if the extensive blackness allows our deepest darkest fears to emerge. Darkness can do this — it can make us afraid of the things that we cannot see. That is why it can be so debilitating. In a similar way, it’s also true with our emotions and feelings. Many of us try to bury our deepest fears and emotions, hoping we can hide them in the dark so we don’t have to face them. We hope they will simply disappear. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. In fact, that’s how our fears become even more powerful and debilitating. For that reason, we must bring them out of the darkness and back into the light by going within and examining them, so the healing process can begin. Yet, we often resist facing our fears because it isn’t easy; it can mean facing a pain that seems unbearable. We don’t want to re-live our past hurts. However, that is exactly how we move past them. Only when we face our darkest fears and pain can we begin to move toward the light once again. And through facing this pain, we begin to see that the light does penetrate the darkness, and our hope returns.
This week during the winter solstice, shed some light upon your own fears and emotions. Reflect upon your life experiences and what they have taught you. The questions below will help get you started:
- What are your greatest fears? What feelings have you kept buried beneath the surface? What can you do to face these feelings and fears so you can move past them?
- When have you experienced darkness in your life? What helped you through it? How did the light return after this dark time?
- Are you going through a dark time in your life right now? What gives you hope in the midst of these difficult times?
- What did you learn from your past experiences of the light returning to your life after dark times? What message of hope can that bring to you?
The winter solstice provides the perfect opportunity for us to go within to shed light upon our darkest fears and begin the process of healing. When we are willing to work through our pain, the darkness will not last forever. The light always returns and our hope in the future is renewed. So, we, like a monarch butterfly, can “burst forth in unexpected glory.”
Have a wonderful holiday season and let your light shine in the new year!