I've noticed most people here in the PNW still have all their Christmas lights up. Maybe they'll take them down this weekend, or later this month, meaning we're truly heading into the darkest time of the year, both mentally and in the light our physical eyes perceive (because although we are actually adding roughly an extra 30 seconds of light each day now that we're past solstice, it doesn't add up to much just yet).
I have never minded this kind of darkness. When I lived in the San Joaquin Valley, one of my favorite times of year was when the Tule fog rolled in thick and stuck around. Many days it never even cleared -- it was pea soup in the morning, more the thickness of a clear broth at lunch time, and then back to pea soup by about 4 pm again. It was a great time to stay indoors, light a fire, crochet, and listen to music or read.
It was also a great time of year when I worked at the winery. We'd get stormy days, early on, when we'd have maybe two or four customers visit us over the entire 6 hour period we were open. I loved those slow, catch-up days because they could mean doing tasks I'd never have time for on busier days, or better yet, spending time getting to really know my coworkers as we chatted to pass the time.
The slow, dark days of mid-winter are a time of hibernation, of incubation, when dreams began to take shape and you feel the new year beginning to take form in terms of goals, ideas and dreams. It is a time for patience and a time for thought and prayer. But without it, you risk just sort of launching into spring without any idea of what needs to stay in your life and what needs to go. It's no coincidence winter is a time when many of us clean out our closets. We're sorting through what works and what doesn't work anymore, both in what we've accumulated in terms of material goods as well as, on the emotional side, what we've accumulated in the form of relationships, habits, ideologies and desires.
I like to think that when spring finally bursts forth into flower and sun, that I'll have a pretty good idea of what I want out of 2019, what I expect of myself, and what I'm ready to let go of. But without pausing to reflect on those things by using the dark days of mid-winter to sift, reassess and plan, it's all one long, endless road with no turn-outs or rest stops.
Not my kind of journey at all. I think the seasonal darkness has it's own set of special set of gifts it offers, if we're willing to accept them on their own terms. The greatest of which is that when darkness is prevalent, we have the ability to see our own light within much better.