Three Gifts: A Solstice Story

Appeared in Viriditas, December, 2012

The weeks leading up to the Solstice are a time of grace, of sacred bounty given and gratefully received – the beauty and abundance of snow and rime, the warmth of hearthfires and seasonal celebrations, the deep potential of the dark and the joyful promise of the light. During this time of year, I love to walk about a mile in utter darkness from my work to the train station on my way home each evening. The road is without streetlights, so for long stretches I am completely surrounded by absolute blackness. Tonight as I walked, I received three gifts.

The first gift is dark’s profound acceptance of who I truly am. In the dark, I feel the benevolent embrace of the cosmos. I can feel myself to be only my essential self because no one can see me to judge or demand I play a role. There I am in nature’s womb where dreams are hatched, where I can be a seed with unlimited possibility unbound by the outside world of daylight. I enter the dark part of my walk the person who I am required to be by day to fulfill my responsibilities and, while there, become reborn as more truly myself, purified by just those few moments I spend in dark’s sanctuary.

While in the dark stretch of my walk, I looked up at the sky that glitters so brightly with stars without the dimming of artificial lights. I focus on one star and let its light reach my face. I contemplate how its rays have taken millions of light years to come to the exact spot where I am standing at just that moment. I realize that every instant is blessed, that each second we are bombarded by light that has travelled indescribable distances for us simply to be bathed in its particles. I wonder if any of those rays of light come from suns with planets with conscious life, and if some being will look in our direction some millions of years from now, and see light emitted by our sun this night. I know that, however, solitary I may feel myself to be in the utter darkness of my walk, I am connected by an almost infinite number of strands of light to all the universe, receiving the light of their sun and being witness as our sun sends out its rays, too. This is the second gift.

I begin to walk again and eventually I can see the glow of the shopping center by the train station. Soon I hear the supermarket’s doors opening and closing and the chatter of people waiting for the train. In the distance I can just make out the red flashing lights of the gates over the track. I have come back to the human world of light, bringing with me my two gifts. A young boy nervously asks me if this is where the train stops. I remember the power of accepting and being accepted and that I am interconnected to all beings. So, instead answering quickly and then returning to the silent blank face I use in public places, we chat until the train arrives and smile as we board together. The Winter Solstice is not something that happens to us, but rather, we are ourselves the Return of the Light for others when we see them with the loving eyes of darkness and the bonds between us created by the light. This season, I will not only celebrate the Solstice, but I will be the Solstice, too. This is the third gift. May you find your Solstice gifts of both the darkness and the light.

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