Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Winter Solstice 2009: Let There Be Light!

Winter solstice.jpg
Today is the winter solstice, which means Annapolis only gets 9 ½ hours of light between sunrise and sunset–and the night is longer than any other time of the year. If you think of the seasons as a ride on a Ferris wheel (which I do), this means that today I am at the very top, soiling myself (because I am afraid of heights and all amusement park rides) as the rickety old thing stops to let more people on and my excited two-year-old (true story) rocks back and forth (“Wee!”), screaming “Binky!” which she dropped by my shoe and wants me to pick up.
Translation: I do not like winter. And I’m afraid of the dark.
But today I celebrate! Because as of tomorrow my days get longer, and I start descending from that scary place at the top of the Ferris wheel.
It’s not a coincidence that Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays are full of symbols of light. People have always honored and ritualized the victory of light over darkness on the days surrounding the winter solstice. What’s not to like about the advent of warmer weather (if it’s not due to global warming) and signs of life (tree sprouts, tulips, carnivals with Ferris wheels) all around.
Like many people who suffer from depression, I wither in the winter. Which is why I force Springtime by sitting under a mammoth HappyLite and running my six daily miles with lots of layers.
Tonight’s long night means my dawn is that much closer.

  • nancy

    I’ve recently purchased a “Happy Light” in hopes of helping my bouts with depression. I’m on a Effexor and Busporin for depression and anxiety and PTSD—lately, it’s been hard. At the suggestion of my therapist, I’m trying the light rather than adjusting drugs. My neuropsychiatrist thinks it’s worth a try. Can’t hurt. Hoping and waiting…
    From here on in, it can only get “lighter”!!!

  • Addison

    Hello Therese.
    It hadn’t dawn on me until I read your post that after today the days will gradually become longer and longer. I wasn’t looking for the bright side, as I often fail to do. Thank you for reminding me that from tomorrow on my days will become brighter, whether I’m paying attention or not.
    Merry Christmas,

  • Ellen

    Just so you know, Norman Rosenthal (one of the pioneers of light therapy) is not yet convinced on the efficacy of blue light (see page 129-131 in his book — see link).
    From personal experience I can say the blue light does not work as well for me as the old fashioned bigger ‘boxes’ — and it was a painful time trying to figure out why I wasn’t getting better despite my fancy new light when past lightboxes had worked. Also there is concern about eye damage with blue light (not good for someone like me who has eye problems in the family). Maybe this is a good option for many people, but if it is not working, don’t rule out light therapy as a whole.
    Lastly, you can get some of the big light boxes on a stand like a floor lamp which really helps get the right angle. is a great resource and no, I am not affiliated with them in any way.

  • Your Name

    “The people that in darkness sat….a glorious light hath seen”…..So where on the Ferris Wheel would you be on June 21???? Very nice article…thanks!

  • Katherine Sherman

    Personally i like the darkness. When the night comes so does silence. I am loud in nature and as ateacher so are my students. THere is a calmness about the dark that allows the up roar of the day pass away. Also, in the morning when I wake it is dark, a peaceful way to start with silence and sight of stillness. Light is also good and night turns to day and night to day. God creates them both for a specific purpose.

  • Lori

    “When I gave up seeking light
    and let my eyes,
    adjust to the dim,
    then the sun come rising.
    and I found a new view,
    when I purged myself
    of everything
    I ever, ever thought I knew
    and changed where I was looking.
    and the sun come rising”
    Lyrics, by Lori Engler
    truth, we become what we think, what we focus on.
    so, let there be light!

  • Ellen

    Another reason to celebrate and attack the outdoors. The true saving grace for me and my depression.

  • Your Name

    Darkness and light are just complimentary,basically,all things were
    complimentary,like thile theres sadness or sorrow,there’s also laughter,while there’s your highest,there’s also your lowest,etc.etc.
    It’s a design of God for us to experience both sides,so we realise that the perfection belongs to God alone.In God,through God and with God,we all were made complete and perfected.

  • John

    Today is a place and time.
    It doesn’t cost a dime.
    It’s a shame to lose it. You can’t refuse it.
    You have to live Today.
    Today is a chance to see
    The beautiful mystery
    Of a world that’s changing and rearranging
    As we go day to day.
    Yesterday gave a golden moon
    To shine on a dawn a’borning
    Don’t let the sunlight come too soon.
    Reach out for love in the morning.
    Today is a time and place
    A wink in the eye of space.
    You’ve been waiting for it. You can’t ignore it.
    Let God’s love show the way.
    We hold the here and now only Today.
    I wrote this 30 years ago. Still true.

  • marymargaret

    yesterday has become too heavy for me to carry……tomorrow is not mine yet…… is where I dwell….each moment asking to be lived..

  • VickiB.

    Wow, Therese — I have always thought the same way about the winter holidays — they are the point where the light begins to return! *hugs* VickiB.

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