Reflections on Winter Solstice, Rebirth & Breathing

“In the dark, it’s easier to see”- Savatage

Today is Winter Solstice, the longest, darkest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, and the celebration of the return of the Solar Deity in numerous cultures.

Just as nature is finding Herself cradled in darkness, I have spent a lot of the day wrapped in my own blanket of luscious darkness as well. A long and productive week has produced the symptoms I have become accustomed to, a headache, fatigue, and eyes that feel like they have been electrocuted.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about the accident that resulted in this new set of circumstances in my life. Tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of what the hospital records describe as “pedestrian v. car” as if it were a wrestling match. Thinking, like our ancestors no doubt were forced to think this time of year, of survival and what it means to endure, thrive, and rebuild.

Today is Winter Solstice and we celebrate the symbolic, theoretical rebirth of the Light just as we celebrate the return of the Sun to it’s climax of power in June, and the feeling of hope that comes as the days get longer.

It’s easy to feel inspired and optimistic as daylight stretches past 4:30, 6:00 and into the evening hours.

Harder to find the hope in the midst of darkness.

Whether darkness comes to you in the form of loss, illness, grief, or despair at a country in crisis, when we are in the tunnel, the light on the other side seems like a fairy tale.

During recent transitions, I have been reminded of the power of breathing, to expand and settle deeper into space in the present moment. Sitting with pain is not a lesson taught in our culture, to our own detriment.

But sometimes the lesson presents itself anyway, regardless of our lack of preparedness.

So with gratitude I remember the moment, eight years ago tomorrow, laying on an ER bed unable to move, feeling as though I had been dropped on a pile of bricks, my head feeling like it was going to explode, and unable to breathe.

Having only one thought in my mind.

I will do whatever it takes to get better.

And then came the Chest Tube.

It was a rare experience for me to be in pain, let alone pain of that magnitude, and have absolutely no ability to react. No ability to move to recoil, and not even the ability to scream, because I couldn’t take a deep enough breath.

To feel absolutely powerless and have to accept on faith that relief would come.

Having only one thought in my mind.

I will do whatever it takes to get better.

And in moments I was able to breathe again.

Sometimes healing is like the cycle of seasons. The Sun returns in December but His warmth and light may go unnoticed for a few months. Sometimes our own rebirth is taking shape just as we feel like we are dying. Sometimes the path to our strength comes from surrendering and having faith that it will get better.

And sometimes all we can do is breathe.