So the clocks went back last Saturday. We appreciated the extra hour gained that night, but now it is getting dark around 5pm in this valley in the North Pennines. In the darkness you can see pinpoints of light coming from other dwellings in the distance, a little like lanterns scattered around the hillside.
This morning I noticed a chill wind for the first time as I walked back up the lane after morning service, a taste of the winter weather to come. I zipped my coat right up and felt my body contract against the cold.
The lights across the valley in the evenings make me think of how, in winter, we tend to want to stay home more, to be less active, to withdraw within in a physical sense. It is also a natural time to withdraw within in the spiritual sense, to spend more time in meditation and reflection, to shine the light within when the days are darker outside.
I like the description of meditation as shining the light within because it is this bringing of light, of awareness and acceptance, to all that is here now, that will transform us. When something is truly seen and accepted – a fear, a grasping, an humiliation – the letting go occurs as the natural outcome of meditation. Thoughts and feelings about it may still occur, but we are able to dwell within the pleasant and the unpleasant without being caught up in desire and aversion. And when desire and aversion drop away our natural state of joy and appreciation is revealed.