"When your chances have run out and your prospects disappeared, and you are alone in the dark, looking back, you live life to the fullest and the clearest, and this is when, belatedly, you really know love." Memoir From Antproof Case, Mark Helprin
I fell in love with the opera on Saturday. A friend of mine and I went to the Met to see Verdi's Falstaff, which is based on Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV. Set in the mid-20th-century, the staging is pure eye candy and it's just a rollicking good tale, full of mischief and delight, and people doing incredible things with their bodies and voices. I was enchanted the whole way through, but especially by the ending, when all the characters convene under the bright moon. I cried tears of joy to see the antlered minions, gorgeous ball gowns and the enormous Sir John Falstaff, reminding everyone, in his final lines, that the whole world is nothing but a jest filled with jesters.
And then, as if someone had yelled, "Cue winter!", Tim and I emerged from Lincoln Center into a snowy Manhattan wonderland, and in that moment my chest suddenly felt too small to contain all the happiness in my heart.
This is one of my favorite weeks of the year: the days leading up to the Winter Solstice. How fantastic that the full moon is so close to the longest night of the year this time. It is, despite all of the short-sighted madness surrounding the headlong rush toward Christmas and the misguided consumerism of the season, a deeply holy time of year; a sacred time of rest. I like to think about the bees in the hive out in the backyard now, all huddled in close for warmth, feasting on the honey they made during the long, warm days of summer, preparing themselves for next season; quiet for now. This is a beautiful time of year to slow down and feel the rhythms of the days, as the whole world holds its breath in anticipation of the return of the life-giving light.
When we end one solar year and begin another, it's important to honor, not only the coming of the new light into our lives, but also the dark night of the soul -- that space in which fresh hopes and visions are born. Take the time to look back fearlessly; still yourself long enough to go to those places of disappointment and grief, unexpected endings and closed doors. You will find in them the lessons you need as you move forward toward new intentions and dreams and desires, toward a life lived in love.
Hold the gifts of this very pregnant solstice season: plumb the darkness, prepare for the light and keep a keen eye for the joy and humor all these jesters are placing in every nook and cranny of this exquisite snowy globe.