Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence
Songwriter: Paul Simon
“The Sound of Silence” lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
In the mid-1960’s, when I was a teenager seeking solace, I went out walking at night. The huge deciduous trees, mostly maples, that lined the streets of our tiny suburb west of Philadelphia offered shelter and silent counsel, their branches meeting overhead in a protective canopy. The confusion left behind in my parents’ home outweighed the fear I sometimes felt as I walked alone.
Once I had my driver’s license, I would get in our green VW bug, put my foot on the clutch, turn the key in the ignition, and drive along dark roads out in the country. The destination was peace of mind, and I rarely reached it. But the black sky, the motion of the car, and the fact that I was driving it instead of being driven by others, as I was in so many ways during the day, had a calming effect.
Night can evoke peace or peril, nightmares or nurturing, terror or tranquility. Our external circumstances, inner wiring, and conscious choices help determine our experience. During painful stretches of my life, unremitting insomnia made me dread the night. And it is also my most creative time.
Winter Solstice is the apex of Nature’s long night. Its stillness leads imperceptibly, inexorably toward movement. Darkness seems complete, and it turns second by second toward light. Without darkness, light would not exist.
When we are safe, when we have shelter, food, warmth and protection from harm, and sometimes even when we aren’t and don’t, we can luxuriate in darkness that seems endless here in the Northwest. We can let it feed our dreams, heal our wounds, give us eyes to see possibilities and create worlds we can’t conjure in daylight.
At this Winter Solstice, we are at the still point of peril and possibility more extreme than our nation has ever seen. Here in the deep dark, may we rest, at least momentarily. May we dream, conjure, invent. Without conscious intent, may we receive the “vision softly creeping.”
From darkness, stillness, dreams and visions, may we spring into action when the time is right.