Earthly Peace in the Heavenly Dark
This is a special time of year, and yet its character is obscured by frenzied shopping, party making, cooking, and gathering. It’s not that any of these is bad by itself, but the frenzy, now, there’s the problem. Chanukah, Advent, Christmas, Yule…none of these holidays demand frenetic activity. And still, the quality of this time of year tends to be frantic.
For most people in our culture, modern conveniences have largely removed the fear of freezing or starving. These days, the biggest complaint I hear about the season is how busy everyone is, how overscheduled, how exhausted.
This season calls for attention, for anticipation, for rest, and most of all, for peace.
How might we gain some peace? How might we sink into the stillness of quiet wonder?
There is no trick to finding peace. There is no shortcut.
Nonetheless, we may develop our own traditions, traditions that turn the volume down, that invite contemplation, that enhance our capacity for wonder. We all need a moment to touch the quiet of the long night, to be present to the deepening dark, to sit with ourselves in this beautiful season.
For example, every year, my wife and I spend winter solstice without electric lights. We open the blinds wide and notice how pale the light is even at noon. We take naps and read books. We cook dinner and bake snickerdoodles by candlelight. In the rich light of the fireplace, we talk about how the secular year is passing and what we hope for the year to come.
It started as an experiment, and it’s turned into one of our most precious rituals. In a season filled with glitter, gaiety, songs, and eggnog, there is something deeply nourishing about pausing and being present with the darkness and the cold.
I invite you to be nourished. I invite you to a tradition. I invite you to have some peace, some rest, some wonder.
I invite you to a virtual retreat in preparation for the winter solstice.
Come into the Dark
This virtual retreat, Going into the Dark, is a way to set aside a day of reflection, renewal, and rest with the support and companionship of others doing the same.
We’ll meet online together four times over the course of the day. During our calls, we’ll set intentions, listen to and meditate on poetry, listen to and share music, hear stories of the season, and delve deeply into guided meditation.
In between our calls, I encourage each of you to engage in quiet, renewing activities. Maybe that means having a big nap or curling up with tea and a novel. Maybe it means getting out your pencils and coloring. Maybe it means stringing popcorn and cranberries with little ones.
Together we will share the beauty and wisdom of the dark time of the year.
This year’s Going Into the Dark retreat will take place on Saturday, December 17. We’ll meet four times over the course of the day:
8am PT/11am ET
11am PT/2pm ET
2pm PT/5pm ET
5pm PT/8pm ET
We’ll meet on Zoom, an online meeting platform. I’ll have my video on, and you can have your video on or off as you choose.
Each call will be recorded and emailed to you a day or two later.
The cost for the whole day is $60.
Frequently asked questions
What if I can’t make all of the calls?
Come anyway! Any amount of getting in touch with yourself and the quiet of the world will be a balm to your soul. One of our retreatants from last year could only attend two calls, and yet he spoke of the richness of the day for months thereafter.
I won’t have access to my computer, but I’ll have a phone. Can I still call in?
Yes! In the email you’ll get a day before the retreat, you’ll get phone numbers you can use to dial in via telephone.
I really want to do this, but that’s a bad day for me. Can I sign up, get the recordings, and do it myself on a day when I’m free?
Absolutely! However it works for you is splendid.
I’m so excited that you want to share this sacred time with me! Click the button below to sign up.I need a retreat!