Solstice Musing on Hope or Is There Really Light in Dark Times?

Hello, huddled-around-fireFor the Winter Solstice last year, I was invited to tell a story as part of an outdoor ceremony with a group of people that my family and I hardly knew.  It was a beautiful snowy day.  The kids were cooking hotdogs over a large fire and having a great time.The scene was set, so I began my story.  “Once upon a time...” That’s how I start all my stories because it ties me and the listener back in time.  It instantly tickles the imagination and people stop and listen.Sadly, the story flopped.  Yup, totally fell flat.  And I’ve had a year to reflect (and anguish a little) on the moment that I lost them.  I’m glad to say that I think I finally understand and there’s a lesson that I’ve found that I’d like to share.  It’s a lesson about the relationship between doubt and hope, fear and security.  More specifically it’s about how we navigate dark times, which means it’s perfect for the Winter Solstice.(plus, i get a chance to rescue my failed story!)The Momentum I Lost Them :I was telling a story about the old times before electricity, when the darkness of this time of year deeply penetrated people’s lives, their minds, their whole reality.  When I asked a question to the group, “have you ever wondered if the Sun is actually going to return?”  That’s when I lost them.  Because their answer was clearly and obviously ‘No dude.  What are you talking about?!”I guess I’m a bit unusual in that way.  It didn’t seem like a stupid question to me because I’ve spent time contemplating these things.I gulped and tried to get them back, but it was lost.  And we haven’t been invited back to any of the seasonal ceremonies of that group since.The Lesson :We’ve all grown up with electricity, with technology and with a fairly high level of security because of that, in the industrial world anyway.  When it gets dark out, we simply turn on the lights.  When it’s cold, we turn on the heat.We know now that the Earth travels around the Sun in a cycle and that the end of Winter isn’t at the discretion of the Gods.But this sense of security has also taken something from us, something essential to our growth and development.We’ve forgotten how to have hope, especially during dark times.  Our ability to navigate our fear has atrophied.And now we find that we need these skills.Even Michelle Obama recently told Oprah that she’s lost hope.It’s important to remember that “those long ago people” were our ancestors, yours and mine.  It’s not just a story, it’s your history (and herstory).  When the darkness penetrated their lives, they faced their fears.  They weren’t able to so easily mask them with the false sense of security that we now see as normal.This is one of the core teachings of the Winter Solstice and the other winter holy days that people celebrate.ff_wintersolstice_800px-796x800We celebrate the “rebirth” of the Sun at the darkest time of year, not at the brightest time of year.  It’s when the darkness seems about to overtake us that we must find hope, even joy.  When things seem most bleak, we must be sensitive enough to feel the shift.Practically, this means we need to take an honest look at the darkness of the world today.  War, hatred, capitalist exploitation of people and the Land, and now the Trump cabinet is the icing on the cake.  Dark times are still ahead of us.It is now that we must call on our Ancestors, who endured great hardships, to help us exercise our ability to persist regardless of our fears.We will be the Ancestors of future generations, of those who inherit this world.   And they need us, our example of staying connected to hope and joy that we may endure the darkness.The Sun is now reborn, the light will return.  Grip it, squeeze it as hard as you need to.And when you find yourself surrounded by fear, penetrated by doubt, try lighting a candle or a fire.  Breath it in.  Take it into your heart and soul.  Invite your Ancestors to join you and ask them for help.holding-the-sacred-fireWe’re not so different from those people huddled around the fire praying for the darkness to subside.  And we have their strength.You have their strength within you.  The fear may be trying to hide it from you, but it’s there.May the Light of this Winter Solstice penetrate your heart more deeply than the darkness ever could.  May you draw the strength and the wisdom you need to endure.After all, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  And together we will endure this darkness and keep feeding the Fire of hope and joy.Blessed be!Strength & wisdomgarliq