It seems appropriate that I drove back from a week in Pennsylvania, my father's funeral, and our last goodbye, on the longest night of the year. The winter solstice. The night that marks the turning from dark to light.
It should have been a fairly short trip with two flights to shuttle me five hundred miles back home within a few hours. But the first flight was exceptionally turbulent and proved too much for my tired body and frayed emotions. I decided I needed to feel the earth below and opted to drive the last few hundred miles. It was a long drive, in the dark, starting in Philadelphia's rush hour, on the busiest driving day of the year before Christmas, in the rain. But the moon appeared every now and then behind the racing clouds below, giving me something to watch and contemplate as I drove.
During that seven hour drive and another the day after going back to the woods to feel grounded again, I had lots of time to think, something I often do best while driving. I thought about the longest night and the changing of seasons.
For my father, the winter solstice echoes the fact that the dark nights of his struggle have passed. A turning from dark to light. And my mother, his always attentive companion, has also passed a threshold, forced to turn in new direction, one that I believe will be full of light.
But I, too, can also receive blessings from contemplating the longest night. We all can. The changing of the seasons is one of the greatest mysteries put into motion by the Great Mystery. Our understanding, misunderstanding, or indifference does not change the fact that seasons change. They do. However, by being aware and contemplating the turing of darkness into light we can receive gifts of wisdom.
There is a longest night. If we believe that fact, then we infer the next night will be shorter. And by acknowledging a change in darkness, we witness that light IS.
My wandering on the New Jersey Turnpike, through the Bronx, on the dark roads of Connecticut, and the backroads of home has brought me to this realization. We may or may not notice, acknowledge, or honor the passing of the longest night, but with or without our awareness it happens. And it is significant. Seasons change. Full of mystery, blessings, and wisdom, the longest night happens.
For me, I choose to acknowledge the change of darkness into light. I watch for the moon between the dark clouds, hoping for a glimpse of wisdom. I choose to anticipate change. Wait for hope. Honor mystery.