In this era where electricity – and thus light, even after the sun has set – is so widely available and such an essential part of our lives, it is a bit difficult to imagine the time when it wasn’t so.

The last few days I have been finding myself reflecting a lot on this; on how it must have been during this time of year before we had electricity and could cheerfully set out lights of all kinds, besides have plenty of lamps and lighting of every type in our homes and places of work.

candleThese are the darkest days of the year – the longest night is the 21st of December, when the sun reaches the northern solstice (it is actually the earth that is tilted away from the sun, and so the Northern Hemisphere has the benefit of its rays for a shorter amount of time each day).

After that day, the days will begin growing longer again, and so we have the return of the hope of light. Even though it means the beginning of winter, and plenty of long, cold days ahead for those of us in the colder climates, the actual amount of hours we will have with sunlight will begin to slowly grow.

But …. for now we are in the darkest days of tA human being is part of a wholehe year, and this year the New Moon falls on the Solstice as well, meaning that it will be even darker that night, as there will be no reflection of the sun’s rays off of the moon, either! A wonderful night for star-gazing, that’s for sure 🙂

And it is also actually a wonderful time to begin reflecting over what we have accomplished over the last year, before the New Year comes around, with all of its expectation and planning and …. heaven forbid …. resolutions! (ha ha ha)

During the darkest of days, we are nudged to look inward, to the light within our hearts and souls –  the light that we radiate  when we nurture our connection to our deepest Selves, through gratitude and appreciation of what Life provides us with, but also through appreciation of how we manage to care for and express the spark of Life that we ourselves are.

This morning I found myself called to do that in a very practical way, and since I love working with spreadsheets, I made out a spreadsheet with a bunch of colored columns, each one with a category of my life:

Relationships – family, intimate partnership, friends;
Work – a column for each of the types of activities I do (counseling, teaching, translating etc.)
creative activities – painting, composing
Self Care – physical exercise, time in nature, other forms of pampering
Home life
Restoration – vacations and breaks
Fun – various ways I have fun and relax either alone or in company.

Under each column heading I tried to list all the various things I managed to accomplish this year, with regards to each category.

For example – under Relationships:

– made sure I created more time for myself so I could enjoy the time I had with my loved ones;

– made an effort to step out of my comfort zone and meet some new people.

And so on down the line.

I did not take note of all the things I DIDN’T manage to accomplish ….. although I will eventually go and take note of those, and see if I want to bring them over onto my Visions for 2015, or not.

I must say that I have done this other times, but today it felt really special and good to take time to do this, and let this past year and the growth I have managed to accomplish sink in. I have been pushing a bit too hard recently, and so deciding to take a moment and really look and FEEL the sense of gratitude and appreciation I have for all these various experiences – however imperfect and incomplete they may be – really helped me feel the fullness of this special time of the year, and tune into its deeper significance of rest, renewal, and preparation for the new cycle that will begin as the old one ends.

I thought I would just share this little tool with you as my gift for the holidays, in hopes that you can open your heart to the beauty of the darkness and to the closeness that it invites us to cultivate, within our own hearts and with the hearts of those dear to us. And let’s not forget to extend our warmth to others outside our own little circle, as well – gifts such as these are ones that are then passed on, they are gifts of light and love, that money cannot buy.

My best to all for a wonderful holiday, and see you again in 2015!