Through a Day Darkly—seeking spirit gold on the Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice.  The day of this post, the darkest of the year, marks the halfway mark in my self-imposed year of blogging mindfully in the service of all our collective children.  Last June 21st, the summer solstice, I decided to step up and try to post something, every day, for a year.  My intention remains as when I set out:  to support you, the reader, to be your best Self, for your own benefit, but especially for the benefit of your “kids” (which can be broadly understood as whatever corner of the world you find is in your care).

Back on the Summer Solstice, I encouraged readers to set an intention for themselves (feel free to consult that post to renew, set or change your own personal intention:; while not every post will be of direct interest to every reader, my hope is to show up here and invite the sharing of good wishes and spirit—not just me to you, but reader-to-reader in the trust that it might ripple out and makes a difference, no matter how subtle.  Much of what’s missing in our modern consciousness is the quietude and trust to pick up on the non-tangible, non-measurable effects of simple loving kindness.

Note:  To my readers in Australia, New Zealand and all points south of the equator I, more hemispherically correctly, wish you a Happy Summer Solstice, particularly Eva and her family who I only learned existed this year (see: for those curious about that). 

Just the other day, as we closed in on the longest night of the year, someone stole the sign that spanned the gate of the main entrance to Auschwitz:  “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” (meaning “Work Sets You Free”).  In Hollywood it is said that you can die of encouragement, so I half-wondered if a movie studio might have filched the sign in some frat-boy hijinks, but either way, it got me thinking about how fate itself could just as well put this sign over the dubious gate that leads into our often bizarre and confusing world—certainly it would be an apt ironic slogan over the entrance to the labor and delivery wards that welcome many babies into our world, and a nice sarcastic banner for doulas to tape up for home births as well.

Lest you think I’m going negative just because it’s the Winter Solstice, I turn toward the sacred to be found in the darkest times.  Parenting is really hard—it is full of joy, but it is also, at times, a journey into our darkest places.  Still, the gold is to be found in the shit, in the darkest corners of the psyche, and in the forced labor of parenting.

Yes, we are fast approaching another Christmas, symbolic of the birth of Christ consciousness arising out of the materialism and debauchery of the spent and cruel Roman empire (any parallels to these modern times?); before Jesus it was the Persian Sun God, Mithras, whose B-Day was December 25th; before that it was the pagans, the druids, the Aztecs and the Mayans who carefully awaited this day as the turning point in their mythic understanding of time.  And as for symbols of darkness, Norse mythology holds the Raven, Loki, as the dark bringer of light; while the name “Lucifer,” also means “bringer of light.”

Viktor E. Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, was an eminent psychiatrist who, at first, could just not believe that he was actually in Auschwitz, his wife killed, his prized book manuscript confiscated, prisoners dying all around him.  With nothing left he surrendered himself to his situation, working to help others survive, hardly struggling for his own life.  In a Winter Solstice spirit he lived, and later wrote:

“Another time we were at work in a trench.  The dawn was grey around us; grey was the sky above; grey the snow in the pale light of dawn; grey the rags in which my fellow prisoners were clad, and grey their faces.  I was again conversing silently with my wife, or perhaps I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, my slow dying.  In a last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom.  I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose.  At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria.  “Et lux in tenebris lucet”—and the light shineth in the darkness.  For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground.  The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved.  More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers.  The feeling was very strong:  she was there.  Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.”

Although Frankl entered Auschwitz as a strident rationalist, he did much more than merely survive, he found transcendent happiness in the midst of the worst work imaginable and emerged out of abject darkness as an illuminated soul.  His story has inspired millions of people to hang in through tough times.  I read it after hearing an interview with a prisoner who survived long years of hard time, inspired by Frankl’s spirit.

So, let’s dedicate today to honoring whatever dark bringers may seem to be treading upon us at the moment, trusting that there is gold in the bitter and coldly trenchant digging we all must do.  Consider sending up some love for this darkest day, as this turning-point day harkens the long march to summer—itself a melancholy roundabout circling back to where we are right now.  So, be here now.  Look up at the sun, or the stars; the moon or the clouds—maybe if we send our love up to whatever we see, it will rain gently back down upon us all, no matter how bleak, lonely or remote any of might feel at the moment; maybe the mingled love that we all send up and out, loving blindly through dark times and radiantly through salad days as well, will warm us, landing like birds to illuminate our souls, gazing back at us like dogs with unconditional love, opening like lotuses to the sun while our feet grow deeply in the seething fundament—loving the dark-light world in the service of all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce


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7 Responses to “Through a Day Darkly—seeking spirit gold on the Winter Solstice”

  1. Laurie Says:

    Thank you.

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Lovely synergies. I didn’t realize it was the Winter Solstice today. I wrote about the light this morning. I took the time to see it, to soak it in.

    A milestone, your six months of every day. Strange, I decided to do a similar thing, begun on June 2, but for very different reasons. To write daily, so that I might learn for the process – many things. And to exercise my skills as a writer so they would not drift away. I have continued to write every day, at times with difficulty, other times with mind and fingers lubricated and in synch.

    What I did not expect was community. More light in the darkness.

    Happy holidays, Bruce, to you and your family.


  3. Stephanie Says:

    Hey there poet man- way to bring it! Thank you my friend – good stuff. Stephanie

  4. Beth B Says:

    Thank you Bruce.


  5. A.N. Says:

    You behold the beauty in the most strange places, just like Frankl did.
    Thank you for sharing it with us Bruce.

  6. Sue Says:

    How interesting, that at one of my darkest points as a parent you started writing for parents and through them, children. I didn’t find you until August, so I didn’t know, but I have definitely been helped by your deep-thinking and -feeling posts. Now I am contemplating writing a book about our experiences, and I know the best way to get going is to sit down and write every day. You just keep on inspiring me every step of the way!

    Happy Holidays, and may you keep on being inspired.

  7. Truce « Privilegeofparenting’s Blog Says:

    […] was the winter solstice and on this year it coincided with a lunar eclipse at midnight December 21st—at least on the west […]

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