December 21. The Winter Solstice. The ancient Yule. The time of greatest darkness in our outer world. In the rhythms of nature, there is a deep drawing inward. Frigid temperatures further make us layer up, retreat, and bundle under sweaters and blankets to stay warm. It struck me lately that this is not unlike chronic pain. Pain can make us shrink back from the world, and ball up in an attempt to protect ourselves. But there is also a great opportunity here.
The Winter Solstice doesn't dwell on the increasing darkness that has brought us to this point. It celebrates the movement forward toward the light that will now start returning. It's full of hope. It's rooted in an unshakable trust in nature that the sun will return.
In the depths of a struggle with chronic pain, the light we are reconnected with at that low, low, place is not the external light of the sun. It's us. It's me, it's you. It's that inner flame we all have. A flare up of the f-word dims my flame. At times it even has made me doubt if the flame will ever come back as fully, as vibrantly. But have hope my friends. Have an unshakable trust in yourselves.
In the wise words of Florence and the Machine, "It's always darkest before the dawn."