Stand By Me
Today is the winter solstice, our shortest day and longest night.
And just in case we’re not getting the point this year, Ma Nature has provided us with an extra clue. Because, as you no doubt know by now, the moon entered a total eclipse last night. (I’m actually watching it now). It’s the first time it has done so during a winter solstice in almost four centuries.
So even the darkest evening of the year had its own blackout.
It’s as if the entire solar system were clobbering us with a metaphor: At the apex of darkness, we re-emerge into the light.
So night has come, and the land was dark, and the moon was the only light we saw…disappear…and return.
It’s a good time to stand by each other.
And what about you and your own darkness, and me and mine? Lately for me, darkness has been my endless to-do list, punching holes in the light of my day till there’s little left that shines through. Tensions in my body block the Joy that wants to flow, as do all the thoughts in my head. I spend so much time up there in my own daily echo chamber, I end up feeling isolated and lonely. In other words, I need a rest, and I guess winter’s a good time for that.
But tonight as I watch our earth’s shadow devour the moon, I’m also struck by a strange quirk of nature and of the human lifespan. As the sun is about to re-emerge and offer us more light, winter is just getting started. Things take time to take hold: The earth cools, slowly, through all of autumn, and we feel the results in January and February. And the same will hold true half a year from now, when we hit the summer solstice, when just as the days start to grow shorter, the weather will keep growing hotter. This odd lag-time dance gets reflected in the seasons of our lives as well: Just as I learn enough to begin to really be competent and effective in my life, my body’s daily light slowly starts to fade. Just as my days are starting to be numbered, I find I have the most to give.
These dark days of winter are an opportunity for me to look inside, regard my shadow during these long nights, reflect on the things that warm and green spring days will distract me from: My life’s long journey; my marriage and friendships; what I really feel; and what I really want.
And watching the moon tonight — how I yearn to stretch – down, and up! To dig my feet down to the bedrock of my despair: I am going to end! And in short time be forgotten! This is all meaningless, useless!
And also to reach up joyfully and tonight, like Jimi, kiss the sky: I’ve survived! I’m alive and I love it! I’m in love and in good health! And I’ve found so many others to share this with! Let’s celebrate it all — together — now!
I want to fully know it all. Because nothing would feel warm without winter, or appear dark without day.
So thanks, Ma, for the symbolism, for the night of metaphor-overkill, and for your urge to rebirth, re-light, and refresh the earth. As the days grow colder now, they also grow longer, and spring – God help us all – spring will surely come.
And I’d like to know: What’s darkness and light for you? What is your despair…your Joy? Stand by me, my friend, and I’ll stand by you.