Welcoming the Darkness

by | Dec 17, 2021

We’re nearing the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. I didn’t pay much attention to this moment in the year until the holiday season became complicated in my life. Prior to that, it was all anticipation and festivity. But in the past several years, the lead-in to the holidays has held more grief, which has brought with it an array of emotions that do not feel very “holiday-like.” Feelings like sadness, frustration, anxiety, and overwhelm. Although I truly believe these emotions find a place in the Christmas story, there is often such an emphasis on joy that it can be difficult to experience that place.

This is why I began to pay more attention to the darkest day of the year. Maybe the metaphor is too on-the-nose, but for me this day with the least amount of light becomes the permission I need to feel what I feel. To feel the feelings that can often feel so unwelcome. Like many things, this is easier said than done. The holidays can be so full of expectations – internal and external, and many of them competing. And not everyone knows how to provide the space to feel difficult feelings. Of course, sometimes the person least able to offer you that space might be yourself.

So, as we come upon the darkest day of the year, I wonder how you might offer hospitality to yourself. How can you welcome the place inside yourself that most needs to be welcomed? What might you do to acknowledge, honor and be present to that part of yourself?

Here are a few ideas that pop to mind, maybe one of them resonates with you or sparks an idea of your own:

Read a good book, watch a movie, make a delicious meal, call a good friend, go for a walk, take a warm bath, have a good cry, drink hot cocoa, write a poem, create something with your hands