What's in the Dark? Allowing our Eyes to Adjust on the Longest Night — Winter Solstice 2017

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The shortest days and longest nights of this time of year have always been ones I wished would hurry by. I'm not a fan of the cold or the darkness. Celebrations of the light returning although cheering, always feel a little bit hollow to me. It's still months until spring. As our end of the planet turns towards the sun, these weeks are still, in fact, more night than day.

This year, rather than rushing through it, I have looked out into the darkness more, wondering what was out there. This year I have had enough psychic muscle to peer into that darkness a little bit longer. To pause and linger with my uncomfortable feelings, and not rush past what feels like a dark alley, best avoided. Taking a lingering look has shown me pockets of my own responsibility for my self, and to others, which, despite being long schooled in the principle of personal responsibility, were overlooked, pockets I hadn’t yet been able to see and hold comfortably.

There is a softening in the darkness, and a softness. It takes some time for eyes to adjust to what at first seems like totally black. Perhaps terrifying blackness. For myself this year I began to let my eyes rest a little bit longer on the states that I feel “allergic" to, the ones that seem like they could not possibly be a part of me. As my eyes have softened I’ve begun to allow the wondering that is requisite for seeing in the dark. I began to tap into parts of myself that felt disgusting or forbidden and just to sit there for a moment. To consider allowing the feelings and sensations to arise, without the fear of acting on them — feelings that I felt were unacceptable. The trick is to allow these feelings to arise - to embody - with the promise of simply witnessing them. 

This year in the darkness I found roots of my own white supremacy, hidden in the shadows. As I let my eyes adjust, I understood that guilt and shame and embarrassment of my class and race hold the system in place just as much as the shrieking defensiveness that I cringe at in others. That my own feelings are a veneer for my comfort in my place of privilege. 

Allowing my eyes to adjust to the darkness and sit, staring into the abject within me, allowed me to unlock pieces of myself that once freed give me access to more of my self, and the ability to be a better relative to all of my relations. 

The endgame isn’t to have a nice shiny answer, the real goal is to continue to expand my capacity for seeing in the dark. Seeing with the heart, some might say. There is hope in this as we turn back towards the sun.

On the shortest days and longest nights I invite you to do the same.