Today, 21st January, is ‘Blue Monday’, believed to be the most depressing day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. We’re at that point in winter when the long nights and dull days seem to be never-ending and today, in rural Warwickshire, it is particularly grey. In spite of the few snowdrops forcing their way through the blanket of last year’s rotting leaves and the daffodils shooting through the cold dark earth, Spring seems a distant dream.
Winter darkness has been on my mind for weeks. After a personal sense of ‘letting go’ during autumn, I have been dwelling in my own wintry darkness. Initially I felt apprehensive about this darkness but my perspective has begun to shift. The darkness might actually be worthy of welcome.
Back in November, as I prepared for a blessed late afternoon & evening retreat with four wonderful women on the theme of ‘Seeing-in the dark’, I began to take notice of the way dusk falls, darkness settles, and dawn appears. As I pondered these daily events, spending time outside in the dark, I began to ask some questions:
- Why are we so afraid of the dark, both in the natural world and in our own lives?
- What if for a short while we could embrace the darkness and, maybe more importantly, allow the darkness to embrace us?
- What if the darkness was something to dwell in rather than escape from?
- What if we were to believe that the darkness contains Divine ‘treasures’ – gifts, teachings, wisdom from God? (cf. Isaiah 45.3)
Wisdom at work in the natural world suggests darkness is necessary. Bulbs and seeds need the safe earthy darkness of the soil to germinate and grow. New life is formed and nurtured in the warm dark shelter of a mother’s womb. It is only when we dare to venture out on a black night that we are awestruck by the twinkling stars and thrilled by the hooting owls. It seems there really are treasures to be found in the dark!
Here is a beautiful reflection about sitting ‘with’ the darkness, written by an Advent quiet day participant – thanks Susie, for sharing it with me and allowing me to share it with others:
Sit with the darkness…of the world?……of the day?
Out of the darkness came forth a great light.
What can you hear in the darkness?
What life is out there?
…to slow down and embrace its permission.
…to do creative things…to read…to pray…to rest…to prepare…to plan.
To let go of busyness. To slow down, to renew and recharge.
...to see the stars… light of the darkness
…to learn to face fear © Susie Fletcher
Of course we need the light – dawn will come – but maybe the image of darkness is worthy of a few moments of contemplation this ‘Blue Monday’. Why not face any fears you have of the dark and embrace it? Allow the Divine to impart her glorious Wisdom as yet another long dark January night descends.