Today is the winter solstice. The first day of winter—the shortest day of the year, but also the day the light starts to come back. As the days have gotten darker and shorter, we have not lost hope because we know eventually we will reach a turning point and light will return, slowly, but it will return until soon the days will be light and long and warm again.
This cycle is not unlike our lives. When things go downhill, when life seems difficult, we just have to remember, “This too will pass.” Our lives are like the seasons. The poet Shelley once wrote, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” and Keats, in his beautiful poem “To Autumn,” reminded us, “Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?/Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—” Autumn has its music like spring. Winter has its magic and beauty as does summer.
We need variety in our lives, we need light and dark, good and bad. Otherwise life would be boring, and only by our many varied experiences do we learn to choose what we want or don’t want, what makes us happy and what does not, and in making choices and learning about what pleases us, in the contrast of all things, we grow and change. If we stayed static—if it were always summer, we would not grow.
Sometimes the learning experience is especially difficult. Life seems like it will never be good again. Don’t dwell on the negative. Remember that the good you long for is already with you—quantum physics has taught us time is not linear but the past and present and future exist simultaneously. What that means is that what you want—the good you long for—you already have. It is coming. It already has come. Enjoy it. Embrace change. It may have to get darker before it gets lighter, but it will get lighter again. You will grow and be happier and stronger for it.
As we approach the holidays, I think of Tennyson and one of my favorite quotes from his poetry. He initially wrote the first version of “Idylls of the King” as a dream dreamt at Christmas, and in the poem, when King Arthur dies, he offers this advice to his mourning knight Sir Bedwyr:
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort yourself today. Whatever troubles you, know that it will pass. That good will come. In this darkest day of the year is the seed to the growth of new light which leads to spring and new growth for our hearts and souls.
If winter is here, can spring be far behind?
Irene Watson, MA, is author of The Sitting Swing: Finding Wisdom to Know the Difference, and co-editor of The Story that Must Be Told: True Tales of Transformation, and Authors Access: 30 Success Secrets for Authors and Publishers. She is a workshop leader, managing editor of Reader Views, and president of a non-profit Higher Power Foundation. Irene lives next to Barton Creek in Austin, TX, with her husband Robert.