A few short weeks ago, on the Winter Solstice, I went for a late afternoon hike to feel the sun set, immerse myself in the shadows of the darkest day of the year, and truthfully, to mourn that the darkness was “leaving” so soon.
There are times when I find it settling and comforting to be enveloped in darkness. John O’Donohue writes, “Light cannot see inside things./ That is what the dark is for:/ Minding the interior,/ Nurturing the draw of growth….” I wander off-trail for awhile, crawling under and between boulders, searching for those places that are just dark enough where I can see my way in (and eventually back out), yet also rest for awhile and allow the darkness to nurture the draw of growth deep within.
I discover a winding passageway and make my way into a crevice between two of the largest rocks, their immense weight resting one against the other. I allow the weighted stone of my body to rest against theirs…..and wonder about their forming. At what point did these huge boulders break from the mountain and fall into this shape? Are they still tumbling, still falling, just so slowly that the spark of my short life is too quick to recognize?
I feel I could rest here for a looooonnnng time….and even as I rest for awhile, I am acutely aware of the brevity of my stay. It is possibly only the beginning of a breath in “rock time."
I offer gratitude to the boulders supporting me and slowly roll my body across the rock and step deeper into a narrow passageway. This short yet winding maze conjures images of a birth canal.
I wonder about my own forming, the shape and weight of who I Am…..
Soon the passageway begins to move upwards and I climb in-between, then over, the last large boulders and step onto a small trail (I’m not the only one who has found a way through here). I take a deep breath and look around. I feel like I’ve experienced something quietly important and yet no words form.
The sun's golden-ing light calls me further up the mountain. After my time in the dark, I have an eager desire to feel the last rays of this Solstice Day cast their slight warmth across my body before being swallowed by the shadows of trees and stone.
Later in the evening, when my memories of of the day are enveloped in darkness, I light a candle and reread John O’Dononue’s poem. His words continue, “That the searching of our minds/Be equal to the oblique/Crevasses and corners where/The mystery continues to dwell,/glimmering in fugitive light…”
pausing here to allow the mystery and warmth of darkness to nourish me into morning.
Gooooood night! ~ Jeni
photo: me. winter solstice 2017.
poetry excerpt: John O'Donohue, "For Light", from To Bless The Space Between Us.