If you will contemplate your lack of fantasy, of inspiration and inner aliveness, which you feel as sheer stagnation and a barren wilderness, and impregnate it with the interest born of alarm at your inner death, then something can take shape in you, for your inner emptiness conceals just as great a fullness if only you will allow it to penetrate into you. If you prove receptive to this “call of the wild,” the longing for fulfillment will quicken the sterile wilderness of your soul as rain quickens the dry earth. – Jung (CW 14, par. 190)
Like frozen grass on an old prairie farm, winter withholds the promises of a long ago spring. And Earth, playing coy, it seems, turns away, as if she could care less that we are left standing here shivering, straddling between darkness and the thin light. How are we to be in this longest night? If emptiness conceals fullness, as Jung suggests, than how do we remain empty so we may be full?
Let the long night penetrate you with its barrenness. Let it wander over you like an old moose foraging through the snow. Shut down the factories, and bring all engines to a halt. Turn off Facebook! And, step outside for a chilly moment to offer a salute to the setting sun one last time before the rock is set before the tomb. For time has slipped away again, as it has been slipping for billions of years, and here we are shaking our heads at another winter solstice.
Everything dies, I’m afraid. At some point, all turns blacker than black, concealing, I hope, a greater fullness. But today, there is too much death, too soon: 132 children killed in a Pakistani school, a young black man murdered again, and another, and another. 200 species gone extinct each day. The list goes on. The bank account is glutted with unlived lives, and I have a lot to say about that.
But on this solstice day, I will try and withhold my thoughts and opinions. I will stand with the unmoving sun and refuse the impulse to fix or to judge. I will do my best to not fill the emptiness with things that don’t belong, and to hold the darkness near to my chest, just as it is. God help me.
What mystery waits beyond winter’s door? During winter solstice the earth tilts northward – or southward, depending – 23 ½ degrees to be exact, tucking the sun away into its opposite hemisphere. Isn’t it interesting that a tilt of the earth – such as the tilt of a head deep in thought – is responsible for all this life and commotion? If the tilt were, say, one half a degree more or less, would the planet be too hot or too cold to support the regeneration of life? What would happen if Earth righted itself?
Let’s never get too right about things. Can we learn to sit with ease on the sharp blade between darkness and light? Is it possible to tend the tomb of Christ without having to create a religion? (Or a program?) And most of all, can we sit together in the darkness for one still moment without saying a word?
All life depends on this earth’s tilting 23 ½ degrees. That brings me to pause. Is God’s tilting head thinking us into existence? Or, is this tilt a cosmic expression of compassion, a seasonal greeting that brings rain to a dry land? I suppose we can argue about it, but the rain still comes, even when it is obvious we didn’t cause it. Nor, do we deserve it. The rain still comes.
A new light is about to be born. Stand at the tomb’s door and wait. Don’t let it slip away unnoticed.
* Earth images from EarthSky.org