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This Winter Solstice seems to be darker than any before it. It’s not just the persistent gray clouds that sucks the daylight out of this shortest day. There’s a heaviness on our collective minds and shoulders latley that are bringing everyone down lately since the Summer Solstice. America and its people have been on a steady diet of violence, hatred, bigotry, vitriol and bile. And I don’t mean only the events that have been building up since then—Eric Garner, John Crawford III, and Mike Brown shootings, immigrations standoffs, Ebola epidemic, the midterm elections, two grand jury non-indictments, more unarmed kids shot, and now two murdered policemen, as well as the general racism, patriarchy, rape culture, etc. I’m including the comment trolls, online fomentors, lying media personalities and all around haters that make all of the other stuff even harder to bear. Any of those incidenta are hard enough to bear. Add them all together, one on top of another, it’s a soul bending mess. Add to that every racist, hateful, ignorant comment about your opinions on each matter, and you wonder how any of us have not managed to hang themselves before today. I know we are getting more polarized as a nation in our opinions, but we are clutching at each others’ throats more viciously and more often than ever.

A friend today reminded me that today is a day to reset. With the earth heading back towards light, we have a chance to look inward and gather peace for yourself before the time comes to emerge from the darkness. Another friend of mine mentioned earlier in the month that it’s almost impossible to celebrate the winter holidays with the tonnage of injustice going on (“who can feel merry?” I think were his words). For a whhile I was feeling like the latter. Too many encounters with people who hated what I felt with a passion and made themselves known left me on edge; that I was writing my feelings to cope with what I was feeling when it was done hurt me; that some of these were friends stunned and infuriated me. I’ve been gnashig my teeth for the better part of the Fall because of all this. Thankfully through talking to the first friend, I feel like better. What she said helped to remind me what this time of darkness can be about.

I think that’s why there are a lot of rituals centered around the Winter Solstice. It reminds us that the loss of light is temporary and will return. Watching my daughter as an angel in our church “No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant” gave me a much needed boost of happiness. We need that hope of light in the darkness. Whatever we can use to recover that hope and lift that weight off of our soul is good. For me it’s having the community of friends that I have to revive the faith I may have lost in people from dealing with trolls and trash on a daily basis.

Things are rough now and it feels a lot to bear; some days worse than others. But the light will return. We need each other, good people of all faiths and no faiths, to keep each other alight until then. And stay away from trolls—stay on the bridges, not under them.