Finding Enlightenment on the Darkest Day of the Year
By Deborah Blackwell
It was just 6 p.m., but the sun had long disappeared and only the clouded moonlight remained. The air was chilly, but not frosty for mid-December. The ocean was just beyond the shadows of the tall evergreens, silent and invisible. A brightly burning bonfire roared a few feet in front of us, and we watched it with intention while ceremoniously shooing out the old year and welcoming the new one in a sacred ritual of renewal.
It was winter solstice this same time last year. And on the longest, darkest night of the year, while the sun stood still and the earth was tilted its farthest from the sun, for just a few minutes I felt some peace.
This special occasion that we mark as the first day of winter, symbolically honors the sun rising out of darkness, or the transition of darkness to light. People around the world extol this shift through centuries-old, time-honored customs that not only recognize fall turning to winter and the natural order of day-and-nighttime cycles, but also as a personal transition toward enlightenment.
As we tossed hand-written cards containing everything we wanted to release from the year into the roaring fire, like magic, we watched the toxicity of our lives quickly turn to white hot ash. Ahhhhh. So long stress.
But it was the next part that surprised us. When we tossed other cards that we had also written about our dreams, goals, and desires for the new year into the fire, the flames jumped so high, they looked as if they were dancing in the air before the ash blew away in a sudden gust of wind. Before our very eyes, our dreams were carried into obscurity. I’ve never seen anything like it. If you don’t believe in magic, go ahead, and try it for yourself. It’s unbelievable.
Reflection, introspection, and our intentions were so ablaze that we had to step back from the heat. Music now played and dancing ensued before we feasted on a holiday buffet in the moonlight. Setting an intention to review and re-do our personal trajectory and transition from the old to the new, called for a hearty celebration, as it has for thousands of years in thousands of cultures.
Regardless of our personal beliefs, humans are on a mission to make the most of life as best as they can. Whether it’s written in the cosmos, or in spiritual texts, we also write things in our personal journals or on calendars, or we at least think it. We have agendas, we have plans, we have purpose.
On this winter solstice, we can set some intentions and celebrate them. Or we can simply welcome winter and the arrival of a new season. Change can bring hope. Time to light a fire.