The Longest Night

A wonderful thing happened this morning. At around the time my alarm went off, the first weak rays of the morning sun began to filter into my window. This is wonderful because it means that, after a very bleak, cold and dark couple of months inTasmania, the days are finally starting to become longer, and I can start to wake up with the sun again.

It’s not like I couldn’t see the winter solstice coming. There just had to be payback for all those glorious days in summer when the light didn’t fade till 9.00pm. Days when it didn’t matter that I don’t have electricity because there was plenty of opportunity in the evenings to go for walks, do housework, or just potter around outside. But could I really have known then just how dire the payback would be – the dark skies at 4:00pm, the getting dressed for work by torchlight, the piles of unwashed dishes during the week because it was just too damn hard to clean the kitchen without sufficient light. Suffice to say the weeks leading into the 22nd June were like entering into a long black tunnel, and the exit out the other side has seemed snail-slow in my light- and sun-starved world.

And yet, here we are, just one month later, and the sun is up as I drive to work along the Derwent River, and it won’t be long before the drive home is equally illuminated. And then it’s a hop, skip and a jump, timewise, to those glorious summer evenings where the sun is on my side again. It made me think about my life in general – how sometimes external events can make our lives seem to close in on us, and all the light goes out of our world. Doctors call this depression, poetic and spiritual types have called it ‘the long dark night of the soul’.

I’ve spent more time in this emotional and spiritual ‘dark night’ than I’ve wanted in my life. But you know, it’s not always a bad thing. In the same way that a cold harsh winter makes the new growth of spring even more welcome and miraculous, so too can the ‘dark night of the soul’ lead to an explosion of growth in a person’s life when they finally come out the other side. In nature, no matter how long the winter, spring always comes again. It’s good to remember that the same also applies to people.

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2 Responses to The Longest Night

  1. And the opposite it happening here in Albuquerque, New Mexico …. 246 days without rain, as temps climbed into 100+ F. , here at 6000 ft. above sea level (and that may be changing soon: both the rain and the sea level.)
    My tomorrow morning is the end of a three week silent retreat, solo, along the Rio Grande River. Skunk, coyote and hawk in abundance … enough of a change from downtown townhome to be inspired in the darkness to do a series of Posts (http://rossduplessis.com/letters/) on what I have come to think of as “Depth Cosmology”: what do the truckloads of scientific data of the past centuries, and especially since Hubble went up …. what can we extrapolate from all that in terms of guidelines for human behavior, as part of that huge cosmic picture?
    Greetings to the island, from the desert southwest.

  2. Hi Roger – hmmm much as I whinge about the dark winter days I’m not sure I want to swap for 246 days of no rain! Enjoy the last day of your retreat, sounds amazing.

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