Last night as I watched the Hanukkah candles burn, I thought about how quickly the shortest day of the year is coming toward us, like a wave of darkness that will sweep past, turning the light back around. Despite the insanity of Holiday pressures coupled with ends of semesters in high school and college and other Decemberings, there’s something very sweet, quiet and deep about this darkness. It’s a sweet darkness in a way, a time when the expansive spread of stars — more visible on a cold night — reminds me that my life is not simply between me and those I love, or my fingers and this keyboard. It’s larger, less known and more mutable than I can imagine.
David Abram, in his book The Spell of the Sensuous, writes about the sweet and vast darkness at the intersection of our perceptions, stories and the living earth. A friend of mine in Canada once told me of her ritual to stay up on the Solstice, eating a meal with friends in the middle of the night to celebrate the longest night. All of this points me toward cultivating some spaciousness and readiness to be with the longer and then longest night, to step out of the ordinary and peopled shortening days and feel the larger turnings of this beautiful world, even and especially at night.