Winter Solstice is my favorite time of year. Growing up in Southern California, intense sunlight is almost a daily experience, and for me it was always too much. I looked forward each year to the longer nights, and the softer quality of the sunlight during Winter.
I was having supper with some dear friends the other night, and the husband was telling stories about his work trips to Alaska. We were both sharing our experiences of being on the Arctic Circle during Summer, where the sun really never set. I asked him how he felt with the 24 hour light, he said he had to set his clock to make him go to sleep, because he would go go go, unless he had an alarm to remind him to rest. I told him how I found the endless light difficult. We all remarked that in Washington State, where I am visiting, the days are very long in the Summer, and residents are extremely active, but come the long dark nights of Winter, the locals withdraw into their homes and are much less active.
I am often amused at those who proudly proclaim there is no God, and miracles if they exist, can always be explained through materialistic science. I am also intrigued when people report that nothing special ever happens to them. Often during periods of grief or sadness, those who are suffering see nothing positive, no proof of goodness around them. When I am sad and struggling, I look to the heavens, I look around me and I see order, harmony, mystery and love. I especially see these things during the dark days between the Solstice and Epiphany.
During dark and starry nights, I have lain on a patio deck or on the ground staring into the heavens. When you consider you are peering out into the cosmos, on a planet that is spinning on an axis anywhere (depending on your latitude) from 700 - 1000 miles per hour, around a Sun, that is part of a family of planets and stars, and you are not flung off into space or crash into anything, for me this is always a miracle. Knowing that there are galaxies, an infinite cosmos out before me, always helped to put my current sorrows into perspective. The fact that I live on a planet that provides all to nourish me; water, air, food, along with extreme beauty both here and in the heavens, the realization always takes me out of my sadness. Feeling the darkness around me, seeing what the heavens contains, for what ever reason, makes me feel held, and part of something so much bigger than my current temporary drama.
The Solstice is the longest night of the year. For me on the West Coast of the United States, that point of the Solstice, the beginning of Winter is 9 am on December 21st, Pacific Standard Time.
This is a fun site where you can find out when Winter officially starts in your area
Recent scientific discoveries illustrate that all of life, the originating cosmic bursting forth that birthed our cosmos, our galaxies, came from darkness. These are some astonishing pictures of Black Holes in Space, taken by numerous telescopes. The NASA website is a great place to see more.
Dark Matter and Dark Energy is the substance that can not be seen, but holds the galaxies together, in a never ending spiral dance, throughout the year, and since the dawn of time.
Dark Matter and Dark Energy, "discovered" by Astronomer Vera Rubin as she sought to answer questions of how the universe held itself together, is the majority of what makes up the cosmos.
What I find so profound, is that when humans try to answer deep questions about the nature of life, the make up of the Earth and Universe, when they try to answer these questions without looking to God as source, the science they produce for me always points back to the Divine.
Image of a Black Hole Transforming Matter, the Death of a collapsing star
and the birth of a new one
We are in constant, harmonious motion in our sojourn through space. The stars are teeming with radiant light and activity. Stars are born out of black holes, which are the densest so called voids and abysses of "nothingness," a remnant of a collapsed galaxy or star, and yet the smallest particles of life eliminate from them.
" I will give you treasures of darkness, and the secret riches of hidden places, that you may know I am the Lord God, who calls you by name." Isaiah 43.5
For me, the Black Madonna carries so many messages from the Divine, but the color Black, the dark faces convey this incredible message of cosmic love and universal harmony, a reminder of where we have come from and to where we will return. May this dark time be a period of rest for you, for reflection and renewal that our modern culture, obsessed with artificial light and frenetic activity does not allow. I hope you can carve out time for silence and quiet. May this Solstice be an awakening for you, that you can see and feel the treasures, the cosmic love that birthed the universe which sustains you in body, soul and spirit on this lovely dark day.
The Black Madonna of Vilna, Poland