This morning's breakfast seemed to consist of endless courses of tragedy, as I read about world events while trying to nourish myself at the same time. My coffee was laced with the report of the Taliban attack on the Pakistani school and the horrifying death of children. With my green shake, I read about the five remaining white rhinos, the rest having been exterminated by poachers using helicopters and automatic weapons. With my seconds came an editorial on Cheney's belief in torture and another by an ASU professor who says we are in a mega drought that won't be averted and are also caught in a heartless form of capitalism devoid of moral underpinnings. I collapsed into meditation sobbing for the world, feeling all the darkness in it and feeling hopeless about my ability to contribute to the light.
Well, that's a cheery beginning. Can you hang in here with me? There is a reason behind my choosing this subject, besides the fact that it's true and current and my heart is broken.
This is the time of physical darkness. We are approaching the darkest night of the year, the Winter Solstice. The day the earth stands still, before beginning to tilt the northern hemisphere toward the sun. We are experiencing the deep darkness of the earth's night.
In my meditation, my guidance was to stay with the dark, to sit there in it and fully feel the tragedy of all the heartless actions that plague us. As the tears flowed, I found myself wanting to move on, grasping for a bit of light, a bit of hope, and some instruction or inspiration. Certainly light is preferable to that dark well of grief. I felt my discomfort with all that darkness.
And yet, once again, I found a paradox about staying with it. I felt the energy of what some call "the fertile darkness," the locus of creation. In the shamanic tradition we refer to the blackness of the soil that cradles the seed, the darkness of the womb that holds new life, the emptiness of dark space where new stars are born. The luminous darkness.
When I asked what to do about terrorism and heartlessness, the guidance was was to look for the light in every person. Even Taliban have families and hearts and desires. What do those hearts of theirs desire? They might say closeness to God. Their idea of how to achieve this seems as misguided to me as the crucifixion of Christ. But nevertheless I am asked to recognize my oneness with them and with all of humanity. I don't much want to go there.
When I manage to take that in (which involves more tears), I remember that we are on an evolutionary edge where every event offers us an opportunity to change, to rise from revenge to respect, from dualism to unity, from enmity to love. As the Dalai Lama puts it, the disarmament must start within every heart.
Ah, there is the light. When I take this in, my heart remembers oneness, remembers light remembers wholeness and joy.
Maybe that outlines my ceremonial recognition of solstice this year: experience the dark and go into it. Feel compassion for all those who suffer, and feel the dark places within me, where I am still lost or afraid, or hiding or angry. Then remember the light of the gifts within me. And light a candle to manifest that light, to strengthen it, to welcome my return to it--which is as certain as the earth's return to the warmth of the sun.
May you experience the blessings of this solstice.