Years ago on a workshop in Finland, a friend asked me, “What do you do when you get tired?” “I drink a cup of coffee,” I answered. He smiled. “That’s one possibility,” he said. So I asked him, “What do you do?” He smiled again. “I take a nap.” For me it was a very deep teaching that I often reflect on, especially at this time of year.

In these days before the Winter Solstice, we are at the edge of darkness. And what do we do when it’s dark? We turn on the lights. Well, that’s one possibility. But why not try NOT turning on the lights sometimes?

So often we think of darkness as the “absence of light” rather than see it for what it is. Most of us mainly meet darkness after we turn off a light, and then it feels abrupt, imposing, heavy. But what if you get to know it slowly, gradually, gently… allowing it in so your night vision can develop?

In Sweden there is an old tradition called "kura skymning". It means to sit in peace and presence with the light as it changes from day to dusk to dark. You sit in the darkening, opening to the gifts of the evening, feeling how it is to see in a different way – and when you are ready, you can light a single candle.

This is a different way of relating and connecting to darkness. For those of us who live in places where Wintertime brings more dark than light, it is empowering to try to accept it rather than deny it. The poet Wendell Berry writes:

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

This year, why not give yourself a gift of darkness, and learn to become friends with it. What will you find?