There’s something about the dark that let’s us find our deepest truths.
As the nights get longer, I find myself whispering dreams and knowings, letting them surface in the gentle dark. Things which can’t yet bear the light of day, can find their way to the surface of my being where I can begin the tentative work of exploring and holding and breathing them in.
I’ve always loved and celebrated these darkest nights.
When I lived in Beacon, NY, just a short walk from the Hudson River, I would hold a solstice vigil every year.
There were fairy lights on the porch, holly adorning the doorways, and the mingled scents of soup and baking bread wafting from the kitchen. I lived on a quite street with few lights, so the house became a twinkling and magical space, a boat we boarded to carry us from one sun cycle into the next.
It was always an unusual gathering, quiet and contemplative. We spoke in hushed tones and somehow, together, drew into our deepest hearts.
Here’s my secret:
There was no master plan.
I didn’t visualize herb shops in two states, a couple of books, and a vibrant online community (online??! says ten-years-ago me, that’s crazy-pants!).
The year destiny wrapped me ‘round her little finger and tugged my life into a new shape, I was happily renovating my 1870’s Sears and Roebuck kit house, spending evenings rocking on the wrap-around porch, and making gluten-free mulberry-peach pies with berries fresh from the trees in the back yard. I loved my house somethin’ fierce and swore they’d carry me out in a coffin.
I was 33. Thirty-three is three 11’s, the number of visionaries and dreamers, ideologues and spiritual seekers. Think about your own thirty-third year (and if you’re not yet there, pay attention when it comes!).
I hit my thirty-third birthday and life got officially weird.
Don’t pass the tissues.
The group looked at me in horror.
Really? The poor woman has snot dripping down her face and I think that’s a little spit on the side of her mouth.
Yup. Still don’t pass the tissues.
This is one of the toughest lessons us humans need to learn.
We want to fix every problem with hugs or cookies or sound financial advice. We wanna show up with screw drivers or swords or whatever the heck is needed to help you get your house in order and slay your internal dragons.
We humans feel good when we’re helping.
And that’s the problem: helping is often as much about the helper as it is about the helpee.
I forget what it’s like to worry about fitting in.
What it’s like to “put my face on” before heading out into the world.
Don’t get me wrong— I know those trying-to-fit-in-and-scared-that-I’m-messing-it-all-up feelings oh so well.
As a pudgy, nonathletic kid, those feelings stalked me every time Mrs. Kriebel yelled “Run 3 laps!” during fifth grade gym class. Those feelings followed me up the stairs as I slunk to the library during high school lunch rather than try to find someone to eat with in the cafeteria. And those same feelings surfaced in college, a plastic smile glued to my face and my green suede boots sticking to the gummy floor as I pretended to like beer and care which Sigma Nu pledge was the hottest.
But at some point in my mid-twenties I got tired of being stalked by my fear of social disapproval… especially since coloring within the lines wasn’t actually making me a happy person.
My teacher in Ireland used to say:
Use the tools until you don’t need them anymore.
“The tools” are things like essential oils and flower essences, teas and tarot cards, crystals, malas and rosary beads. They are the candles you light to hone your focus, the breathing exercises that calm your mind, and the shells and stones on your altar which remind you what you are made of.
These spiritual tools help our physical selves connect with our inner-wisdom, our energy bodies, our souls.
This Jewish girl has owned rosary beads and Kwan Yin statues, citrine points and oracle decks…
… because they help me to connect with the deepest parts of me.
You’re hard-wired for wonder…
… for pausing to study sunsets and the afterglow of lightning flashing through the summer sky.
It’s really that simple.
And yet, the same hard-wiring which allows for so much joy can lead you on a merry chase for meaning, for logic, and scientific explanations. When we become overly analytical we close the door on everyday magic. We end up living in Mundania with no mystery in sight. I’ve been down this path: it led to longing, disconnection, and even depression.
When we fail to recognize the wondrous in the daily, we lose a necessary part of ourselves.
I’m not exempt. After the umpteenth time sucking my thumb in the abyss of Why-The-Heck-Are-We-Even-Here, I came back with this basic truth: sometimes we have to allow life to have meaning.