As I step outside before the sun comes up to go for a walk in the woods, I am met by a bright moon on the waning side of full. The moon is setting in the west, while the sun has yet to come up in the east. Standing between these well-known polarities is also as it is now with the season. For while we are still moving towards the darkest depths of winter, at the same time, minute by minute each day, we move towards more light.
And yet, even with the light steadily, noticeably and undeniably increasing, we are still not even at the half-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. I see all of this reflected in my own internal process where I am not yet “out of the dark” with some longstanding issues, while simultaneously I cannot deny that ever more the light is making its way back in. The Celts might call this a “betwixt and between” time and space. Not really exactly somewhere just yet. Not really on the other side of something, but somewhere in between.
All of it continues to show up in my mind in that I am both excited to be getting into the woods before sunrise, and also a little apprehensive. It is still dark after all. Who knows what moves in the dark? There is a back and forth between sensing the mystery of this time of day, and a fear of the dark and what it holds that ping pongs around in my mind until I stop on the trail in an attempt to stop the match in my mind.
Right next to me is an enormous boulder, a symbol of those things that are steady. Those things that are not subject to the made-up machinations of the mind. Directly up and to my right is the moon, and directly up and to my left is the sky just beginning to brighten. I cannot help but see the metaphor in standing exactly between these two powerful and primordial forces; the light and the dark. Neither good, nor bad. Neither one better than the other. Both with its own particular sets of gifts and challenges to offer.
And while many of us might prefer the light, there is so much to be had from the dark. So much to be discovered in the depths of Winter’s shadow. Thinking all of this I round some bend, and suddenly there is just so much more light. A small part of me is relieved, while a part that longs for something more grieves the loss; not just of the dark but of the time I have spent being afraid of it. For I recognize that in my fears of being in the dark, and wishing it were light-filled, that I am missing something when I wish it was other than it is. That the dark is not a place to be missed, avoided, feared, wished away, or navigated half-heartedly. But instead, something to be deeply honored. Accepted. Welcomed in even.
Good news. We are still in winter where darkness prevails. Which means we still have plenty of time to gather the teachings and the healings that are only possible in the darkest of times. While never easy, it cannot be avoided. For as sure as there is light, there is dark.