We are moving day by day toward the longest night of the year (in the Northern hemisphere.)
I wonder: Are different kinds of stories required for this phase of our yearly cycle? After all, many Native American cultures have stories that can only be told during the time of the snows.
In the summer and spring, of course, we see life budding out around us. We like stories then that speak of action and growth.
What about the dark days of the year? In the dominant U.S. culture, we act as though nothing happens in winter. Of course, a perennial world – including crocuses, daffodils, lilies and much else – is growing and thriving beneath the surface.
To treat this time of quiet stillness as nothingness is to overlook half the cycle of life.
What Do We Need?
In the winter we need time to come into ourselves, to go down below the surface, to nourish the roots of our being. We need to tend to it, strengthen it, and establish our deep connections to it – so that when the spring comes, we will be ready for the blooming-forth phase of the cycle.
Yes, we can comfort and console ourselves with stories during the long nights and the short days. But beyond that, let’s be thoughtful: what stories do we each need, to nourish our roots? To ground us in the cool but timeless parts of being human?
As you approach the longest night of the year, try to notice: what stories are you hungry for?
Where Will You Find Those Stories?
We’re unlikely to find our root stories in the popular-culture mills that provide most TV and movie stories.
Instead, we’ll have to turn to books, to recordings, but most of all to each other and to our communities of storytellers. And even there, we may need persistence to uncover what we seek.
My wish to you during this solstice season is that you find the stories that nurture your roots. Perhaps the stories you need are dark, or perhaps they are filled with light. Perhaps they are painful or perhaps hopeful.
By letting these stories do their work in you, you will be honoring that part of your life that our society tends to skip over.