Practices From the Inside Out: As Our Days Grow Darker

Practices From the Inside Out: As Our Days Grow Darker September 22, 2018

As Our Days Grow Darker

It is easy for most of us to fool ourselves into forgetting our days grow darker each year.

We use electricity and machines to brighten our days with artificial light. Rarely do we take time to pause and remember, to take a breath and realize our days are changing.

Today is the day this year when darkness catches up with light. Our days have been brighter and longer in our hemisphere for six months, since March. Even where I live, in the land of endless summer, the rhythms of the seasons change each year.

The transformation from summer to autumn to winter happens in tiny increments here.

Many of us are reluctant to find summer passing into autumn today. We may feel the sands of this year spilling through our fingers and wish we could hold onto them. As our days grow darker we wish we had done all the things we set out to do last January or last June.

Some of us feel a weight of each passing day and each changing season. What happened to all those things we set out with such confidence to accomplish? Why are we no closer to meeting our expectations?

As our days grow darker we see our mistakes and weaknesses and failures with stark clarity. We thought we would be further along, further ahead by now.

It feels like we are running out of time.

If only we had two or three weeks more of summer. The year feels like a blanket which is too short to cover us, not enough to keep us warm.

Summer is over. It is autumn, and our days are growing darker. Where will we find the light to continue?

Finding Light As Our Days Grow Darker

People in our society use knowledge and technology to control and mask the primal extremes of our world.

Some of us create music and words to cover silence we find intimidating. We connect with people around the world when we are faced with our own solitude. Our lives are lit to help us be less afraid of the shadows.

Our lives are sustained and supported by a foundation of information and technology as our days grow darker.

We have grown accustomed to our protections. It is challenging for us to remember, or even imagine, what life is like without the ways we try to control it. Few of us experience what life is like without the comforts we have developed.

Many of us live in a world without real darkness. There is hardly any time, even while we sleep, when there is no artificial light in our lives.

We experience our technology as beneficial. Technology does allow us to do many things we could not do without it.

The lights we make for ourselves can also block out the light of the stars.

Our technology increases our potential. Will we use our potential, our new freedom, to make ourselves even more comfortable, or to explore beyond the edge of the light?

Some people use technology to distract themselves from the deepest aspects of their own lives. They are bathed in artificial light. The darkness beyond the light is darker because they are reluctant to explore it.

We can try to protect ourselves from our unknown fears out there in the dark, or we can explore hidden depths and dark truths. Will we shine our light into the darkness, learning to see in new ways?

Shining Brighter As Our Days Grow Darker

Sometimes I get up during the night and sit in the dark.

I wonder what it must have been like before we learned about electricity. Our only light was from the sun or from flame. Now we are surrounded by bright light which overwhelms the light of the stars in the dark sky. We obliterate darkness with lamps, headlights, the glow from so many screens, even our phones light up. It is hard to imagine what life was like when lighting our lives took more effort than flipping a switch or pushing a button.

We need stillness to pay attention to our deepest selves, to hear ourselves. Do we need darkness to appreciate our deepest selves, to see our true selves? How can we become enlightened if we do not spend any time in the dark? Do we recognize light if we are not acquainted with the dark? What is the relationship, the rhythm, which balances darkness and light?

Do we see ourselves more clearly as our days grow darker?

Darkness is where I think my deepest thoughts, and also where I rest and sleep. Maybe our deep thoughts are like the stars; always there but usually washed out by the lights we build to drive away the darkness. Maybe that rest is always available to us, whenever we tap into the depths of peaceful darkness within us.

Flashes of Color As Our Days Grow Darker

It is not a coincidence the trees around us burst into flashes of color as our days grow darker.

I am confident there are scientific reasons for the beautiful displays of autumn. One of the things I miss the most, here in the land of endless summer, is the foliage of autumn.

It is as if these trees are reminding us to shine more brightly as our days grow darker. Their transformation inspires us to shine our own light into the growing darkness.

Autumn tells us, even as our days grow darker, we still have time. Our year is not yet over. There is more we can accomplish. We have more time to prepare. The days may be getting shorter, but there is still time.

Our first step is looking the growing darkness in the eye. We will not gain anything by forgetting as our days grow darker.

What will we see more clearly as our days grow darker?

How will we shine our light into the darkness as our days grow darker this week?

[Image by Sarah McDevitt]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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