“Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others”. Pema Chodron.

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NASA Goddard photo and video

We are just a few days away from December 21st, the Winter Solstice, marking the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day of the year. From this date on days lengthen and the move from darkness to light is celebrated in many different cultures, religions and countries all over the world. Symbolically this time is represented as rest before awakening, re-birth, new beginnings and hope.

The darkness at this time of year can bring a heavy, sleepy energy, it’s easy to feel low emotionally, lazy and in some ways stagnant and naturally we look forward to the coming of longer, lighter days with fewer layers and warmth from the sun. However without this time of living through the darkness of the season we wouldn’t yearn for the light to follow. In the same way on a deeper level, at times through no choice of our own, the experience of sitting with darkness, pain, discomfort and practicing acceptance of ourselves without judgment can result in shining the light of understanding for others who may be suffering. In the words of Pema Chodron: “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” from the book “Places that Scare You”.

For me as we lead up to the celebrations of light tipping the balance from darkness, this quote is a reminder to send prayers to those suffering, to make calls that have been put off and to be present with the darkness of others and myself as much as I can.

On Friday 21st I’m hoping to head out (if winter flu subsides) to the Burning of the Clocks festival here in Brighton to mark the shift of the season.

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