As the country lurched towards the new year, we free fell into the darkness together. In this hemisphere, Winter Solstice arrived right on time. Wednesday 4:44am exactly, Central Time, December 21. Light and dark tarried together, side by side. The long night seemed to swallow the light..at least for 24 hours. Now the balance is shifting.
I’ve seen my own life change on a dime, swinging from one wildly dismal day to rejoicing the next. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it”. And still, we need the darkness. The restful, desperate, incalculable night. Author, Professor and Episcopal priest, Barbara Brown Taylor knew this well. She wrote a whole book entitled, Learning to Walk in the Darkness.
So, even as we wound down the old year in increasing political insanity, our spiritual power grew brighter as we the people began to rise up. I’ve heard it said that the darkest hour is right before dawn. Until now, many have mostly put their eggs in one basket. Power through the government politic. It must be for the people, isn’t it? It was created for we, the people. Surely. But with the seismic shift of our political landscape this past election, we can no longer rest in denial. It has been spinning out of control for a very long time.
But now, something bigger than all of us is taking ahold. We’re all in the whirlwind together.
As Nicholas von Hoffman said to his boss, Saul Alinsky, community organizer, after a massive overflow crowd showed up in Chicago to hear the Civil Rights Freedom Riders talk about what they’d been experiencing in Mississippi…
“I think we should toss out everything we are doing organizationally and work on the premise that this is the moment of the whirlwind, that we are no longer organizing but guiding a social movement”
(Civicist, “In a Whirlwind Moment, Glimmers of Big Organizing”, by Micah L. Sifry, Dec. 5, 2016)
So, hold onto your hat and come out and stand with the people. The Spirit is moving. True wisdom ways will be revealed among those silenced and vulnerable too long—Indigenous voices, young people, the brown skinned, women, the poor, soil, air, water, and creaturely communities. Our generation must be schooled in nonviolent, peaceful power. Again. Gandhi taught satyagraha. Translated as “soul force”. This is the unitive force of love paired with power. He used this massive engine to bring down an empire.
David and Goliath stories come from a specific legend and lore. The seemingly puny stand in the face of the huge forces arrayed against them. And with a small, but strategically placed act, down comes the giant.
Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas all celebrate the humble, the small, the marginalized during this season. Their narratives teach us that a fierce love and loyalty can prevail against empires. Those who’ve been enslaved can reaffirm the dignity and beauty of their culture. Love wins through Holy Imagination as small as a child in a manager.
And so, even in the perpetual night of their winterhives, Bees glow with heat. I’ve heard that bee bodies, clinging together for warmth, really aren’t dormant at all. Infrared light shows that though the air around them might be frigid, yet, the vibrating and rotating bees will heat just the globe sized ball of their congregated bodies up to 97 F. They must. It’s the only way their babies will survive til Spring.
It will take a whole hive to keep each other warm in the winter of our discontent. And it takes all of us staying awake to keep our children safe until Spring.