By Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP
Here we are at the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This time, which we call the first day of Winter, might be my favorite holiday of the season because it involves no shop-till-you-drop consumerism and no 24-7 Christmas music.
The day simply asks us to look at wonder in the skies, notice and appreciate the natural rhythms of the earth and ponder the meaning of the temporary darkness before the return of the light
The Winter Solstice is certainly one of the planet's oldest holidays, the day when the Northern ancients noticed that the darkness overtook the light. Astronomically, it is when the North Pole is tilted farthest away from the sun, delivering the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.
When we are in the dark, we move more slowly and tentatively. We may feel more vulnerable and therefore more frightened. So my holiday wish for me and you is this: May we become comfortable with the darkness, learning what it has to teach us, before we return to the warmth of the light.
For your reading pleasure, I share with you this beautiful writing about vulnerability by the poet David Whyte, who recently appeared on the On Being broadcast:
"Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state.
"To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.
"To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.
"The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door."
You may find the original posting, along with the broadcast, here.
Wishing you a peaceful Winter Solstice, happy holidays and a healthy new year!
Karen Carnabucci, LCSW, TEP, is an author, trainer and psychotherapist who promotes, practices and teaches experiential methods including psychodrama, Family and Systemic Constellations, mindfulness and Tarot imagery.
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