As summer solstice arrives, I find myself wondering about the metaphoric increase of light and the ongoing balance of light and dark, the constant shifting from more of one to more of the other and the very brief points of apex on either. We are not meant to be static. Not the planet, not even within the same season–there is constant change. Even as summer formally begins, it begins the long path to the opposite.
Dark to me does not necessarily have the connotation of evil–though it can indeed also mean the absence of light on heart and soul levels–rather it often represents for me all that is hibernating, what is nascent and unborn, the things that await clarifying, the times of preparation, incubation, anticipation, hibernation, rest …
Dark carries in it the potential of enlightenment, the tender differentiation of color in pre-dawn, the realization of upcoming sunshine and the end of opaque unknown.
In the summer solstice, dark is at its shortest, but it is not eliminated, nor should it be. Without dark, there is no contrast. Without dark, it is difficult to find rest or space for incubating thought and creativity, for wonder and imagination, for small things needing sheltering still until they grow enough to face the light.
I am reminded of this as even in the longest day arrives, the path to increasing dark is already beginning–slow and steady from now to the winter solstice, a drop-by-drop addition to the night and its many potentials.
Don’t get me wrong, for all the sheltering potential of sapphire skies and starlit hours, I love long days. I adore the long twilight of summer evenings, the seemingly endless time to be outside in the sun. So much so that I remember wondering–as a child reading about another child’s life in Lapland–what it had to be like to live above the Arctic Circle in a summer of continuous light (only in the summer, please … the freezing cold is not something I am enamored with even considering …).
Someone I know swears by the healing properties of experiencing these dark-less days. She finds that it calibrates her body’s internal needs: she eats when hungry, sleeps when tired, works until the work is done. To her, a fortnight in the Arctic summer is a remedy for most that ails her.
Another friend who spent some of her childhood in Sweden told me that she loved it for the first two days then found it suffocating. “I’d hide under the bed and drape a blanket over the sides to get a place of darkness. I needed time to breathe some night. My brain wanted to rest.”
I can understand both the freedom that a time of continuous light allows, and the need for respite from it. For all the adoration of light–and I indeed adore it–there is the inherent balance of all things. Even my friend who prescribes Arctic summers makes time for breaks from productivity.
A sage woman once told me: “We all seek the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel itself has value in leading you to it.”
May this Summer Solstice become a day of balance for you. May it support your outward creativity and your inward incubation of new being and new doing. May it hold the hint of winter in the making–the cooling and the slower pace already forming.
Happy Summer Solstice to you.
And for all who celebrate it–also a Happy Father’s Day!