WINTER SOLSTICE: WHEN LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS FINDS YOU

December 5, 20158 Comments

“Connecting the seen with the unseen,” by Deborah Smith Parker

CANDLE in darknessEvery culture has its version of a “let there be light” story. Some describe creation; others are tales of renewal of light that has been “lost.” Here in Western culture we are heavily influenced by the renewal stories of the Judeo-Christian traditions, most notably the birth of Jesus and the origin of Hanukkah which, not coincidentally, are reported to have occurred around the time of the Winter Solstice.

But I think the real point of these stories is for us to apply them personally, to recognize and embrace some illumination in our little lives when we are mired in our greatest periods of darkness and hopelessness, especially at this time of year when in many areas of the Northern Hemisphere the seasonally barren landscape surrounding us can reflect the inner landscape of our souls.

So as we near this period, take some time to reflect on a particularly poignant experience of a time in your life when the light started to shine out of the darkness so that you found a way to embrace each other, the light and you, for a surprising moment of “aha!”

Following is one such story of mine that took place when I was growing up in Wisconsin where winter, which starts in late October or early November, officially arrived when the skating rinks were created anew by flooding parts of the playing fields of all schoolyards and parks. When the ice on the lakes was thick enough the snow plows drove out onto the small bays to clear off much larger skating areas.

Although winter is cold, its real sickle stroke is the dark. It makes one huddle into oneself when the sun goes down around four in the afternoon. But the skating rinks had big floodlights and no one really noticed it was dark, that is, unless you were the last to leave. Then it was your job to turn out the rink lights. (This was the 1950s, a time of good citizenship.) The rink I usually skated at was a particularly long way from the street, so you really noticed how dark it was, walking up the steep hill to the street. So no one wanted to be the last one to leave, especially me, because in those days I was afraid of the dark.

One day in fifth grade I was possessed by two types of insanity that can take hold during winter in snow country:

• The “I am invincible” insanity, and
• The crushing realization that you are not invincible and have lost all weaponry to parry the cold spears of winter.

These two often culminate together—and trust me, it doesn’t matter which one delivers the first punch as the other is sure to follow. Readers should have no problem guessing which type first took hold of me that particular day when I tell you I chose to ride my bike to school in spite lots of snow not yet completely cleared from the sidewalks and roads.

It was pitch black that late afternoon. It was freezing, even for Wisconsin. I was practicing this one skating maneuver I had trouble with and was determined to keep working on it. I was so absorbed I was surprised to notice that everyone else had gone home for dinner, leaving me the last one at the rink. My toes were beyond numb and I was too cold to take off my skates and put on my boots, so I put my rubber skate guards on (Wisconsin kids learn to walk fair distances this way), fastened my boots to the handlebars, turned out the rink lights, struggled up the slippery bank, and started on my bike ride home pedaling with my skate-clad feet. Yup, insanity!

It was also stupid and hellishly difficult, of which I was well aware, but I wouldn’t stop to do the obvious—change into my boots. Plus, the trip home was several blocks, uphill the whole way. I made it to the sidewalk in front of the house just below ours on the hill at which point I realized I had no more energy, no more will to go on. I wasn’t going to make it.

Winter NightVery dramatically I let my bike fall over to the side with me still on it, landing in a deep snow bank. It was a grandly satisfying gesture. There I was, still on my bike, both on our sides, the bike and I, sort of like still being on a horse that just died under you. I lay there knowing I, too, was going to die in sight of my house with the big front window spilling light out over the snow. I thought about how warm it would be inside, how my family would be involved in all the before dinner activities and conversations. I was still in the time corridor in which no one would be worried about where I was, so no one would be out looking for me yet.

I lived on a quiet street and no neighbors were out so it was just me, lying there in my little mortality crisis, dying just 50 yards from my house and no one would know until it was too late. I reflected on this for I don’t know how long. I kept looking at the light from our living room pouring out over the still unblemished snow of our front yard from the storm a couple of days before. By now I was really really cold.

Suddenly, something in me snapped and I said out loud, “This is stupid.”

I simply got up, and still on my skates, walked my bike up the hill and into the garage. I entered the house to the usual greetings. No one in my family knew I nearly died out there, and I never told them until years later after I came to the realization that it wasn’t just a day in which I went totally nuts, but a day in which I also negotiated some significant breakthroughs.

I’ve come to know it is light that calls us into the dark in the first place—to find something new, to face something we didn’t know needed facing. If there had been no light at the rink I wouldn’t have been there when it was dark. And that would have been a shame. I may never have conquered the troublesome aspect of that skating maneuver. I wouldn’t have faced those few scary moments alone right after turning out the rink light, and I may not have learned so early that I could climb out of a depressing situation simply by changing my mind and then acting on it.

Those were the illuminations waiting for me in that winter day. What are some of yours?

To book a consultation with Deborah click here.

Deborah Smith Parker is a professional astrologer and writer on many subjects. She is author of the newly released (2014) “The Horse that Haunts My Heart” and (2010) “Humanus Astrologicus,” both available in paperback and Kindle. To sign up to receive her blog or follow her on Twitter (@astro_logicus) and Facebook click to the right of this post.

About author:

Deborah Smith Parker is re-writing the often impenetrable language of astrology into a much friendlier form. She has spent her 30 plus years as an astrological consultant, writer, teacher and lecturer freeing the rich astrological images and their descriptions increasingly buried under modern clinical and technological descriptions. Her additional work in public policy has provided many outlets for demonstrating her ability to break down highly complex systems into information that’s easily understood.

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8 Responses to “WINTER SOLSTICE: WHEN LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS FINDS YOU”

  1. Jill Estensen says:

    I completely relate to and love all of your stories. Thank you for your brilliant writing. You are able to reach into the souls of adult children & bring their hopes, fears and loves to life.

  2. Debbie Keil-Leavitt says:

    Ah, yes – loved this piece. And sometimes the hardest thing in the world is just deciding to get up and not die at that particular point. The dark and cold isn’t so bad when one is numb. Might that light just be the warmth of love that sometimes feels less comfortable than being alone, but a lot more fulfilling? Just thinking out loud, here.

  3. Teri says:

    Oh gawd, I laughed until my sides hurt on this one! You on your bike, falling over into the snow bank.
    Growing up in Colorado at the base of the Rockies, I know the cold of winter, too. Learning lessons about the cold came frequently, and driving my ’71 VW anywhere in the snow made me feel invincible, even sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to go TP someone’s boyfriend’s house.
    Love your stories and the way you tell them.

  4. Loved the story of you discovering you could change your mind and pull yourself out of a troublesome situation.

    It reminded me of a time when I was 12 years old and decided I was in love with an older c-u-t-e teenage boy who I knew hung out playing pool a few blocks from my house at night long after my bedtime. Without his knowledge, since he barely new I existed, my girlhood mentality decided I’d run away from home after my family was asleep one night and surprise him by showing up at the pool hall and we’d live happily ever after. Did I mention I was the world’s most naive pre-teen, having watched more than my share of romantic musical comedies?

    On the night of my would-be escape, I waited until my family was asleep, eased into my clothes, and tiptoed to the kitchen back door. Opening the door ever so quietly to avoid arousing anyone, I took one step onto the porch to be faced with pitch black darkness and pouring down rain. I had no contingency plan for either of these, so I aborted my plan, saving my escape for another day.

    My escape was obviously not urgent since I resumed my previously-scheduled life the next day and never thought about running away again. If there had been no deep darkness and pouring rain causing me to change my mind, who knows what fate awaited me.

  5. karenhawthorne says:

    “It is light that calls us into the dark in the first place.” This is profound and makes me cry with appreciation for the meaningfulness of everything. Thank you. KH

  6. Kayci says:

    What is so interesting about your beautifully told story is that it is a story of truth and courage. We all have had times when we have given up and could not think our way out of a situation. Then something comes into our awareness and we look at everything in a different way and with courage go forth to solve the situation. I do believe we all have Guardian Angels who help us at these times as that light from the window did for you to give you the motivation to go home to the warmth you knew so well. Lovely story and good for all of us to read and hopefully apply.

  7. Beth Newcomer says:

    Wowzah, Deborah. This one really kicks. I must admit I never thought about the darkness and the light at the Winter Solstice quite this way — and now, this will be the first way I think about it. Great story, good use of a light hand with a cool lesson. Brava!

  8. Neal says:

    Great tale. I went to boarding school in Switzerland when I was 10, and after classes everyone would go out to the hill a kilometer away to toboggan down the hill. Often after a few hours of walking up the hill to cannon down again, I would be exhausted, but keep pushing for the exhilaration of the perfect ride. Walks home were often challenging, but the promise of hot chocolate and a hot bath kept me going.

    What I find similar is the concept Kenneth Burke (Professor at UC Berkely) wrote than man is the only animal “goaded by the spirit of hierarchy.” Often having the imperative to achieve perfect, wether in a skating move, or a toboggan ride, creates a possibly endangering myopia.

    Deborah, I’ll take our two experiences and those above as a clear message to stay aware focused, and present. In Jungian terms, stay in consciousness, even when the unconscious summons. Simply put, light some lights, be it yule logs, candles or lights on a Christmas tree — in your mind, heart, and soul.

    Thank you for your story and your wonderful energy.

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