Daylight Savings Time arrived last week in Minnesota so now we have darkness at the end of the afternoon rather than at early morning! But there is no saving of daylight by mere mortals! Darkness is not to be avoided. Now it sneaks up on me during the evening rush hour drive or a late afternoon walk. We’re still a month or so away from Winter Solstice when the night is longest but the descending darkness envelopes us pretty quickly even in November-here the month with the most sunless days. The blaze of Fall has ended and as I put my garden beds and pots to rest I realize again that this time of early winter is one of even deeper un-forming. I am invited to slowly let go and come to terms with winter’s harsh realities while knowing, too, it offers me its long, dark season of underground trans-forming.
I’ve come to see again that perhaps hibernation is meant for more of us than the bear and the groundhog. Maybe quiet and rest really is needed for germination and renewal. I voice the usual resistances and complaints: winter is too long, too dark, too cold, too limiting. Driving is hard and walking is harder. But I love, too, savoring my beet, cabbage and potato borscht, my veggie chili and cornbread and the fresh honey comb from my neighbor’s bee hives spread thick on my morning toast.
So maybe it’s good to spend evenings at home a bit more-to actually use my privilege of being able to cozy up by the fire, to read a great book or watch a good show, to talk on the phone with friends who are staying in or to sit in silence by a lit candle. Could it be that I, and you, need to be still in the darkness, to quiet our bodies and minds so that the soul can work its unconscious magic deep inside? If my obstacle to most everything is the “busyness” favored by our culture then isn’t this time of slow soul work a great gift for my capacity to create and flourish? It seems self-evident so why is it so difficult?
When I reflect on the stories of my agrarian ancestors I can see the ancient wisdom of living in the rhythms of Earth, immersed in her cycles. The early myths of Inanna or of Demeter and Persephone teach us that a time of “visiting the underground” and the suffering it entails is required for rising into a new spring, summer and bountiful harvest. Both Inanna in early Sumeria and Persephone in the earliest Greek rendition of the story were invited to descend into darkness to comfort those banished there and thereby rescue them from their suffering.
Accordingly, my choice to face the hard stuff, to enter through compassion my own and others’ pain, fear and wounding, our “darkness,” is necessary to regenerate our renewal and rebirth. Thus the cycles of Life continue and evolve. As Dawna Markova writes so aptly, “I choose to risk my significance, to live so that which came to me as seed goes on to the next as blossom, and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”