I took this photo, looking out of my kitchen window, just before 8 a.m. and it is still almost pitch dark... in the last few minutes there is the slighest hint of blackness becoming velvety blue. And in a maximum of eight hours from now it will be as dark again.
The shortest day (in the northern hemisphere)
The winter solstice
The day on which our pre-Christian forebears would create a festival to honour the light and the sun, which our Christian forebears would adopt/adapt steal/supplant with a celebration of the birth of Christ, the light of the world.
I love the feel of early morning darkness, when the world still sleeps and the air is still, when the rush of the day is yet to come and I can savour a few moments.
Yet for many, the darkness of winter feels oppressive, even malevolent, the nights are too long and the days too short.
When we were teenagers, my sister, who is not a fan of the dark, cold dankness that so often accompanies this time of year, oberserved that, if Christmas didn't exist, we'd need to invent it... She recognised the human need for light and warmth, hope and celebration... just as did the ancients.
I have friends who will celebrating yule as well as, or instead of, Christmas, and that's fine by me.
On this shortest of days - the sky is now almost mid-blue though the street lights continue to be needed - why not take a moment of stillness, recognise and name how it feels for you - and then create some brightness and lightness to lift your spirits and declare that light is stronger than darkness!
PS for antipodean readers - happy longest day! Hope you are enjoying lots of sunshine.