With All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day behind us, we are solidly launched on the wild, yearly Christmas Season Schuss. We are baking and cooking for the gathering tribe. The decorations of the season are finding their way to our windows, doors and eaves while we set up our trees and festoon them with lights and play-pretties. Off we go to Black Friday's holiday sales to find gifts to wrap for those we love.
You'd think we'd be happy.
We are, for the most part, not happy at all.
The reasons for this are simple enough, and begin with that level of existence we civilized folk like to ignore while we turn on all our electric lights to keep away the dark. Our bodies are not fooled by our lamps and our neon signs. We know at a cellular level that we are losing the light.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is also known as "winter depression." It is a global phenomenon, so in the Southern Hemisphere, naturally, it is known as summer depression. We are on a rounded planet, so that the curvier portions both north and south occlude the light during the off season. At latitudes of 30 degrees and less, both north and south, the people who live in those latitudes are often subject to depression simply because the days begin later and end sooner. Almost no such depression is recorded in the tropics.
The darkness of nighttime outwears its welcome.
As head of a prayer group, I am very much aware of how many more people struggle with illness in cold weather than when it is warm. In the dark, one loses heart. I have seen our older, chronically ill members thin out during the winter months as though the dark had called them home.
I have prayed in the long reaches of the night as my Mother, my Father, my beloved companion, Don, and both of my Grandmothers died right at this time of the year. Many of us have sad memories to deal with as we remember those we have lost in the dark seasons of yesteryear.
The Q’uo group which I channel says,
"It is interesting to observe the lack of joy with which many entities approach the dark times of winter solstice, for indeed that is the energy of this particular season of the year, that energy of the dark and the sleep of hibernation and winter.
"It is a time when it is very easy for those entities who are close to passing from the incarnation to have a more than usual opportunity to greet the dark, with its invitation to all to come and be a part of that darkness. It is a seduction that brings many to that passage betwixt incarnations through what is called death to the next stage of consciousness for that entity."
Even the healthiest among us keenly feel the loss of the light. And so we should. If you trace our bodies back to their origins, those origins are in the tropics. We are not hibernating mammals. The long, dark nights of cold weather seem alien to our bodies. Many of us find a way to migrate, like snowbirds, seeking sunny beaches and warm waters to alleviate our symptoms of distress, discomfort and depression.
I am especially aware of this heavy, seductive pull toward depression this year, since I am learning how to live with a new diagnosis of interstitial cystitis, a chronic condition of the bladder that has challenging aspects for one attempting to live a normal life. When this illness first hit my life three months ago, I was overwhelmed. Only after a long and patient semester of learning to deal with the symptoms have I begun to discover how to cooperate with this situation.
To the intellectual mind, such cooperation seems silly. The mind demands that we work to change situations that we do not like. And in many cases, such mind-governed thinking has its uses. There are a myriad of social, economic and political situations we all would do very well to take to heart and find ways to better. And when we have a cold or a flu bug, we quite sensibly take good care of ourselves in the effort to feel better fast.
However, some illnesses are not simply short-term inconveniences. Some illnesses, like cancer, rheumatoid disease, Parkinson's and a host of other chronic and killing conditions, can put us down, flat as a flitter, while we figure out how to deal with them.
Why would I attempt to cooperate with such an unwanted guest as illness?
I have a strong and unshakable belief that what occurs to me is perfect. I cannot see the larger pattern. In any rational sense, conditions stink for me right now. Yet there is a larger and more whole picture that shows that "God is working his purpose out," in pristine and immaculate order. I know this has lessons to teach me. I am open to those lessons, inviting of them, looking forward to the learning that this suffering has brought to me.
Illness is a kind of darkness of the body. Like long nights, feeling ill can seduce us into depression and take away the joy of life.
Yet we have light within us. We have proof against the dying of the outer light. We have that awareness within us which always rests in the light of our Creator's infinite Self. Darkness and illness are both outer symbols of the existential strife that can overcome us as we deal with what seems to be a sometimes hostile and impersonal world; a world of darkness and lack of love.
When we spend our time objecting to the seasonal stress of too little light, too many guests, too many parties, too long a to-do list and too little time, we are at war within our souls. We cut up our peace just when we could be finding our best times coming to us.
When we cooperate with the seeming limitations and inconveniences of these short days and long nights, whether they be physical or emotional, we come into harmony with the universe. Life stops being about "me" and starts being about being part of a perfect creation. Even if we are ill, this can be our reality and our true joy.
In the same channeling session I quoted above, dated Dec. 21, 2003, the Q’uo say,
"We take this opportunity to praise the dark as well as the light and to ask each of you to work on embracing all parts of the self, loving, honoring and respecting each and finding ways each day to come into more conscious harmony of being.”
"As you are able to find your kingdom within becoming peaceable, just to that extent shall you be able to be a force for peace to those about you. No matter how you strive, if you do not embrace the dark side of self, you shall ever be less of a messenger for peace."
I speak in words. You hear the words. Often what I wish to convey, however, escapes the form of words. I think that is why I so often quote songs, for songs carry deeper and more intense feeling than mere words. The deep threnody of these darkening days is caught well in this ancient and anonymous text, translated into English from Latin in the ninth century:
"O come, thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And earth's dark shadow put to flight.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel."
All of us are Israel. All of us pray for that cheer in these days when we are enisled by the dark. The light shall indeed ransom us, physically, in its season of spring. While the days are dark, however, only we ourselves can clear the way for our inner light to shine and our inner Emmanuel to come.
If you are dealing with limitation and discomfort now, or if you are working to understand just how things got out of hand and everything landed on you at once, my solid and substantial sympathy!
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. Take heart within the growing darkness and find that light that shines, that road that beckons in the wilderness. "Arise! Shine! For thy light is come," as Handel's "Messiah" phrases it so well. Seek that light. Find it. And let it shine through you to bless the world! Your blessing is dearly needed.