Monday, December 22, 2014

Waking from The Darkest Night

Let This Darkness Be a Belltower
Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29 by Rainer Maria Rilke

Quiet friend who has come so far, 
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

The Winter Solstice showers us with the shortest day, the return of the Light, and one more vital event: the longest, darkest night.

Through much of my life I've been instructed, either explicitly or implicitly, to dodge or deny the dark. I, ever the contrarian, chose instead to embrace it. Reflecting on it now, I know that wasn't always the case. That change happened one long, dark night when I was six. 

Akin to this year, the Winter Solstice was accompanied by a New Moon. I'd always been a light sleeper; many noises roused me from sleep. Generally, I rolled over and returned to the Land of Nod. This particular night was different. Something brought me to the stage of full wakefulness. The room was completely dark, with that palpable darkness that brings with it a fear of the unknown. The door to my closet was open and I sensed movement within it. I heard a rustling coming from it.

My younger self knew enough to call for protection ~ I sent a prayer for my guardian angel. Almost immediately, a tall shadowy being sat on the foot of my bed and began rocking it gently back and forth, softly telling me a lyric tale. Soon, I fell asleep again.

The shadowy figure returned whenever the need arose. Because of that, and the tales I heard, Darkness became my ally rather than something to fear. I learned an ally works with you and was content to have Darkness in that role.  When I was older, in college and beyond, friends commented  on my familiarity and comfortability with Darkness.

How do you feel about Darkness? Do you turn on lights every time you enter a room in the evening or night? Why or why not? How does the darkest and longest night affect you?

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