*from Phantom of the Opera, words by Charles Hart, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation
The longest night of the year is approaching like a phantom. The shortest day is this Saturday, with the winter solstice arriving at 11:11 a.m. CST. By my calculations, Saturday night will stretch an epic 15 hours and 14 minutes.
Carrots may enhance night vision, but open up the other four senses while the visual receptors adjust to the dark.
Darkness wakes and stirs imagination
“Solstice” is derived from the Latin, solstitium, meaning “sol” , “sun” and “stitium”, “stoppage”. Solstice refers to the two times in the year (winter, summer) when the sun appears to come to a standstill in its movement across the sky. It appears to hover, momentarily, in it’s celestial arc.
Stoppage is the opposite of stirring and awakening, yet the moment the sun reaches it’s lowest point, the days begin to lengthen again; imperceptibly at first, but becoming more noticeable within a month or two.
Silently the senses abandon their defenses
Silent night, holy night. In an article on the solstice from The Plain Dealer (http://www.cleveland.com/chagrinfalls/index.ssf/2013/12/stop_what_you_are_doing_and_ce.html), contributor Joan Rusek suggests,
“Most of us can tap into the quiet stillness of the early winter to meditate and reflect on the past year, cleaning our emotional and energetic closet for a new year to come. We can’t realize these gifts unless we have cleared a space for them.”
Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendor
Last night, as Howie and I were headed downtown for a spectacular performance of “The New Production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera” (from which I am borrowing lyrics to structure this post), he was struck by the beauty and fullness of the rising moon.
When we got home, Howie noticed the moon was so bright and high in the sky, that it was casting shadows. Moonshadow is a song by Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgiou and reborn Yusuf Islam), a musician Howie and I both loved as teenagers. Here are some haunting lyrics from Moonshadow that resonate with me now,
“Did it take long to find me?”
I asked the faithful light
“Oh, did it take long to find me
And are you gonna stay the night?”
Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams!
Darkness is associated with ignorance, the subconscious, evil, death, and fear of the unknown. How did it get such a bad rap?
When our son, Sam, was little and afraid of the dark, I found an aerosol product we could spray around his room at night called Monster Repellant. The placebo effect was incredible.
But what is a dark dream? It sounds like it could be a porn website but the dark poet, Edgar Allan Poe, had this to say about darkness and dreaming,
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
On the other end of the light spectrum, spiritual writer Marianne Williamson explains away our fear of darkness,
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.” (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/darkness.html#Mz1hReZ2G3gEA3AP.99)
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before!
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar!
And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before
Since beginning this blog, I have attended to my daily experience of loosening my grip on the world I “knew before”; a world of young ones in my house, and all the joy and chaos that inhabits that world. I have marched, headfirst and with eyes wide open, into an apparent darkness which felt like grief but is probably also an uncertainty of the unknown and what comes next.
Yesterday, before leaving for The Phantom, I received confirmation from the director of the Young Writer’s Program at The Loft that the new class I wrote last week (instead of writing blog posts for a few days last week!) has been accepted as one of the offerings for the summer of 2014.
Let your mind start a journey through a strange, new world!
Everything we do in this life is at the expense of doing something else. There are dreams I have, in addition to becoming a better teacher, that I haven’t had the time, energy or freedom to pursue, like becoming a better writer and sending more of my work out for publication.
And speaking of strange new worlds, there is plenty of work to be done in our strange current world that is just waiting for those of us with the time and inclination to serve.
I’m making myself a little nauseous with all this talk of growth and change.
Let your soul take you where you long to be!
If your soul doesn’t take you where you want to be, time will. In the words of another one of my favorite showmen of all time, Mick Jagger, “Time waits for no one.”
As we wait through this coming, longest night of the year, we could focus on what we are waiting for. In this household, we are waiting–with fingers crossed–to hear from colleges, we are waiting for this cold snap to end, we are (O.K., I am) waiting to hear what my advisor says about the first half of my thesis, among other things.
Or we could focus on enjoying the night, itself. We could make a fire, snuggle up together, fully savor the longest and deepest darkness of the year and find in it the music of the night.
These are the kinds of nights that result, for some, in births and hopefully for others, in re-births.