Inside the belly of the whale, it is dark. Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. For a season, this season, I am being called to let the tears wash over me, to wail, to cry out and let the pain envelope and comfort me. Happiness will not suffice for now. Joy seems so distant, so far away. Sorrow—its mirror image—hangs closely round my heart and soul.
I must learn a new way to comfort myself, and the way does not involve putting on a smile and taking care of everyone around me. How can I suffer—exist—live in the dark night of the soul when all around me are hollow words of "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays"? “Cheer up,” well-meaning friends say. “Get over it,” I tell myself. Easy to say, but I don’t even know what “it” is. I see fear in the eyes of my loved ones. They worry that I am not happy. “You’re not yourself these days,” they say. “I hope you come back soon.” But, I have not gone anywhere. This is me—all I am able to offer—right here and right now. Maybe it is not all of me for it is more of the sorrowful side—some would say the dark side. And, just as I have been known to burst with joy, for now I am bursting with sorrow. I am learning that both are essential for the fullness I desire.
Give your burdens to the earth—the strength of the mountains—the vastness of the sea—God—only these can carry the weight of my burdens. I am called to lay face down on the ground as the Muslims do, connecting my head with the earth. Feeling the solidity beneath me. It is holy ground.
Belly of the whale. It is dark inside here and even as I release myself to the darkness, I begin to feel lighter. A twinkling light. There must be great darkness for the tiniest light to shine. Wait. Just wait. It is the reminder I have heard throughout this advent season. Wait.
“When you are in the belly of the whale, let go, detach yourself, let the pain carry you where it needs to take you, don’t resist, rather weep, wail, cry and put your mouth to the dust, and wait.” Ron Rolheiser