The Long, Dark Night

Today is the Winter Solstice. Whether you practice any beliefs or hold ceremonies around the Solstice or simply acknowledge that this is the longest night of the year, I am coming to believe you can find a certain kind of magic in the darkness.

I never thought much about the Solstice until I moved to the Pacific Northwest. I now realize that was probably by my parents’ design, as I grew up Evangelical Christian and when the Solstice came around, it was always something that got swept under the rug.

Evergreen trees in the fog

Here in the PNW, it’s (perhaps unofficially) recognized as a day of change, of movement back toward the light. It’s a day of celebration of sorts as we acknowledge that we have made it through the longest, darkest periods of the season.

Light is a treasured thing here. With nine or so months of rain and cloud cover, Pacific Northwesterners can get a bit particular about the light. During the height of winter we have less than eight hours of daylight, and most homes have big picture windows, to allow in the most natural light as possible.

But back to the Solstice.

This year I found more significance in the day than I ever have before. And I think it’s because I just came out of a period of personal solstice. After a very long time of self doubt and self improvement, of looking for career opportunities, of having the desire to write, but feeling plagued by insecurity and uncertainty, I am finally out of my creative long, dark night.

Now that I have left that period, I realize there are good things that can be found in the dark. It’s an opportunity to look inward, it’s a chance to be still. A place to pause and reflect. The dark isn’t a place to avoid or ignore, it has a purpose, and it has an end point. While you can plant seeds in the dark, they typically can’t grow and flourish without the light.

It feels especially comforting and inspiring to be in this place of leaning toward the light as we head into a new decade. I am anticipating what the coming period of longer days will bring, espically since I have recently made peace with the darkness.

If you’re going through a personal, creative, or professional period of darkness, just know there can be good things that come from it, even if it feels impossible to see now. And remember that the light will always return.