It’s that time of year again. Winter. Cold and snow and ice. Darkness and weak sunshine. Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanza and Yule. Lights in the dark.
It’s the time of Yule and the time to usher in the return of the light. It’s the time of the (calendrical) new year and the time to start looking forward to new beginnings.
Winter is a great time for introspection. Most people, I think, do turn inward during this time of year and think about many things: what happened this past year, what they want to happen in the next year, the festivities and family and friends. This time of year is naturally the time when people begin to examine, even if only a little bit, the internal workings of their minds and souls. It’s necessary–we all need to do that at some point, and winter naturally brings those opportunities about, since many of us stay indoors from the cold and sit around looking for something to do.
And the new year gives us hope, gives us a time to bring about new changes in our lives, to think about the wonderful things we want to happen in the coming year and then, if we’re so inclined, to make them happen. Winter is the hibernation, the “death” of the old before the birth of the new. We say good-bye to the old year and everything that happened and turn bright faces full of hope to the new year.
Winter, and especially this part of winter, is a time to take stock of everything that has happened previously. What were the things that made me happy? What made me unhappy? What moments this year were really bad for me, and what was really good? If you’re doing serious reflection and self-examination, then you can ask bigger, harder questions: what behaviors this year hindered me in getting what I want? What did I do that didn’t work? Did I do anything that hurt me or others? What do I want to change about myself or my life?
Such questions can bring into perspective the grand opportunity that is the new year. I’m not talking about making new year’s resolutions–I don’t know about you, but I was never able to keep mine! Most people don’t. No, I mean that since this is the time of the new year, then it’s the time to bring forward those thoughts of what you need to let go of and what you want to bring in. What behaviors, activities, habits, people, jobs, etc., need to be let go? What do you need to bring in?
The new year is an opportunity and reminder only, but the introspection and the questioning are better suited to all of winter rather than just the week or night of the new year holiday. That way, by the time the season of new growth and birth and fertility comes around (ahem, spring), you will be ready to plant the seeds for that new growth having already shed the things you know no longer work. You will be able to feed the inner light with those things that you need, rather than dampen yourself by trying to make things you no longer need continue to work for you.
Yuletide is a wonderful time. As we grow closer to the holiday, I hope you all will enjoy the season and remember the light.