The Longest Night (Winter Solstice and Grief)

The Well is Deep

It is a long journey
down into the deep well of grief,
but there are gifts too,
along the way.
Bright and shining stones
that line the path
guiding us into the heart of things.
These appear before us
one by one
like stars across
a darkening sky.
The journey is long
and the well is deep,
but these stones sustain.

- K. Chripczuk

*   *  *   *

I feel caught this week between real grief and desired joy as I tend my little flock and run and rush between holiday concerts and parties.  I've fought the urge to tear-up while waiting in line to drop my six-year-old off at her elementary school, noticing the newly stationed policeman watching over her small, bobbing frame as she disappears through those wide doors.  And I've felt a guilty pleasure every time I get to bring her back home with me at the end of the day. I've sat through too brief moments of silence unable to wrap my mind around a single word or a prayer that might suffice, which are followed by halting renditions of Jingle-Bells and tiny voices squeaking out memorized lines of "good news of great joy for all people."  

Tonight as I stood in the kitchen finally mixing up the long-awaited Christmas cookies it occurred to me that this is the longest night of the year - the winter solstice.   Here we are just a few short days before Christmas experiencing the longest night and to top it all off it's windy and cold here and I'm walking around tossing in ingredients and stirring up cookies with a blanket wrapped around me like a toga. 

If ever there was a time to pause and feel the weight of the darkness of the world we live in, then maybe this is it.  Before we turn to solutions and be-and-do-better-isms, before we take one more step down the road of blame or we allow our hearts to be darkened any more by the deadly poison of fear, maybe we can stay, just a little longer with our grief.  The words of Alice Howell ring in my ears tonight, "In the midst of death, there is life!  In the midst of despair, there is a future!  There is a purpose to all grief - the fruit to come of it is wisdom." (Sacred Journey)

There's much to be missed if we move too quickly out of this darkness. 

Maybe, if we give this night its full measure, we will be ready for the rays of light, the bright shinning forth of joy to come.  


  1. In today's society it is very hard to find time to grieve or even to sit still in contemplative quiet. But the scripture teaches us that it is in those quiet and still times when we know God,and can find his wisdom.

    1. not sure who posted this . . . it wasn't me . . .

  2. Replies
    1. I don't understand why it's putting my name beside you . . . ?

  3. yes, this
    the gifts along the way

  4. Gifts of friends along the way made me think of the shiny stones, jewels. The touch of a friend helps us through the sorrow of loss. Waiting for your sweet lovely child to return and feeling relief that she is safe with you. Even at a time when everyone is happy, and we suffer, it is difficult to be join in, but praise and worship does life up our spirits so that is what we must do.