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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Schleicher-Park

Knowing the Darkness, Preparing for Light

“Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.” The words of Paul Simon came to my ears during a particularly difficult few weeks in which my heart realized that the growing darkness of winter was creeping too close. I also sensed that I was not alone in this feeling of weight growing in souls. A number of people have expressed a sense of impending struggle in their lives or in the greater consciousness that has brought on feelings of sadness. I pondered, “How do we move through the darkness without being swallowed by it? As the song suggests, can we learn to befriend natural and personal darkness?” Darkness, metaphorically and literally, is misunderstood. Today is the winter solstice. The darkest night of the year has passed and from this day forward the light begins to return. In fact, this year’s solstice night was the darkest in 500 years. Perhaps this is the universe itself reflecting on the global state of tragedy we see unfolding around us. Or perhaps it is exactly the purpose of the dark. In the natural world, winter is the season for pulling inward, conserving energy and preparing for regrowth. Trees, plants and some animals direct their energy to their root system and hibernation instinct in order to prepare for spring and the energy of revitalization. Our answer to living with simplicity through the darkness of winter is surrounding us in the natural world. We live in a busy culture; so busy at times that we have limited space to spend in reflection. We are living in contrast to what the natural world asks us to do as part of the collective consciousness. As plants and animals need to recharge, so do humans. In this way, the darkness of winter days and nights is a gentle reminder from Mother Earth that in order to regrow with a sense of purpose and light in life, we must take the time to pull inward a bit and spend time with ourselves. Grow our root system and build up the energy to sustain life through the winter months with enough left over to celebrate the coming of spring. I have begun talking to the dark. When I feel the closeness of the cold winter surrounding my spirit, I look into the night sky and ask with curiosity, “What is coming next?” It has provided moments of brevity and a flicker of life during times that may otherwise feel melancholic. Tomorrow, the light begins to return in subtle increments. These moments will begin to flicker in our hearts and minds. Let’s take time to notice them and use their power to nourish the coming months. So… What feeds you? What or whom will help you feel rooted in the winter months? Do you take enough time for yourself? Time without technology, time without distractions? If not, how can this be incorporated into your life? What does not feed you? What or whom takes energy away from your core root system? What steps can you take to minimize time surrounded by that which does not serve the revitalization of spirit?

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