Meditation: Winter Solstice
After weeks of overcast skies, the sun has finally returned on this, the darkest night of the year. Today is the First Day of Winter, the day of the Winter Solstice. Tonight the darkness will last longer than at any other time of the year. Tomorrow, daylight slowly returns to supremacy, with light outlasting the dark.
Sunset is in just under an hour. Right now, the sky is my favorite color blue and offset with perfectly puffy clouds. The grass is actually dappled -- dappled! -- with sunlight. From inside my cozy (read: cluttered) studio, the wind blowing the leaves across the quiet street seems friendly and playful. Being outside is another matter: the current temperature is 27 degrees Fahrenheit, with that frolicsome wind making it feel like 12.
Midwinter in Southwestern Pennsylvania is a doleful affair. Grey grey grey is the order of most days. Sometimes it's the type of moody sky full of gradations of grey and luscious layers of clouds. I like those days. The dark, bare tree branches stand out in sweet relief against slate grey and blue. The world is my favorite palette on such days.
But those days are rare, it seems. More often, the world is a washout of whitish-grey, an opaque cloud of sadness shrouding everything. I don't even mind those days sometimes. A little bit of melancholy is always good for me. But lately, they seem to consume the landscape and last for months on end. In turn, I get anxious, lethargic, unfocused. I think this is getting worse as I age.
My brother moved to Arizona several years ago, but always comes home for a few weeks around Christmas and sometimes for a bit in the summer. He admits to missing the seasons we have here, the smell of tree and grass, so different from the smell of cactus and sand. But he can't move back. He's been christened in the sunshine of the Southwest. He tells us that things are easier there; people are more cheerful and friendly. And apart from two months out of the year when it's too hot to do anything, he says, it's always perfect weather for going and doing something. The Southwest is a continual grand adventure, all thanks to the sun.
But as much as I rejoice at the sight of bright blue days here, I don't think I could live in the land of eternal sunshine. After awhile the strong rays wear me out, jangle my nerves, make me twitchy and insecure. Besides, I like thick winter coats, striped gloves, colorful scarves. I've heard that the sky is perpetually blue in Colorado, even after snowfall. Perhaps Denver has the best of both worlds.
In the time it's taken me to type this, the sun has waned and everything has taken on that soft, lovely hue just before sunset. Twilight is my favorite time of day, when everything is blue, comforting, and mysterious. Try as I might to reset my internal clock, I am an undeniable night owl. The sun sets and I come alive. This is my time to think, create, connect, to be most myself.
Tonight, on the darkest night of the year, I embrace the gifts of the dark and wait for the coming light.