Living around the corner from Baltimore’s most beloved holiday tradition – also know as Hampden’s Miracle on 34th Street, I have come to associate the darkest days of the year with the wonder and whimsy that glows throughout my neighborhood as soon as the sun sets. Colored lights strung from house to house guide me like a beacon during my brisk winter walks home from the office.
However, the approach of the Winter Solstice and the holidays that follow can mark a challenging time for many individuals struggling with anxiety, depression and physical health concerns that worsen in the cold weather. Add in extra time with difficult family members and the season of merriment and cheer can quickly become an emotional roller coaster of expectations followed by disappointments.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” – Rumi
So what is the remedy for losing sight of the gifts that winter has to offer? Go inside and leave the light on.
This year, I am inviting you to join me in the practice of ‘wintering‘ which I am defining as a quiet navigation into the deepest and darkest parts of ourselves guided by a flashlight, compass and a kernel of Hope. Wintering leaves space for saying ‘no’ and comes with cups of warm tea and bowls of hot soup. A cozy blanket and a good book await you along with a sturdy pair of boots to tromps through a fresh batch of new fallen snow. As you breathe into the stillness that you discover in your mind and in your heart, imagine flickers of light illuminating the path that leads you back home to yourself again and again.
Winter is a time for homecoming. Whether you are celebrating the holidays in the home of your youth or with friends and family several states away, may your own inner light stay bright enough to arrive you into the New Year with a renewed sense of safety, peace and love for self and others.