Winter Solstice 2020: A Deepening

Posted on Dec 20, 2020 in Nature, News, Reflections, Seasonal Messages

Growing up I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid of going to bed at night. I was afraid of going down into the corners of the basement in the middle of the day, where I would often get sent to fetch things. Mostly I was afraid of the unknown. What I might find there.

I have come and left, come and left in my Edmonton neighbourhood three times in the past 30 odd years. The first two stays were short: a summer break spent in a heritage home near 97th Street, a year and a half near 95th Street in an Italian bungalow built like a bunker, and more recently 8 plus years off 92 Street, east of the LRT tracks.

When I first started living here those many years ago, I had an imaginary security system in my head. Day or evening, it didn’t matter, I had an elaborate map of homes of friends and acquaintances on each block, and I would time evening walks and trips to the grocery store to coincide with some of these locations. If something should happen to me down this block, I reasoned, I could knock on this or that person’s door and someone would let me in. I never had to use it in all the years I’ve lived here.

Something changed in the decades of my coming and going in the neighbourhood. This section of town still has a high transient population and a high crime rate, but somewhere within, something changed in me. I kept being drawn back by the differentness, by the diversity. The Other no longer seems other or perhaps I recognize the other in me too. When I go for walks in the neighbourhood now, I don’t scout out the safe doors. I go without expectation of any kind. This doesn’t mean I live without fear. But I’m getting better at accepting my fears, at accepting the risks of living. This is a metaphor for how I feel in the world now, venturing further and further each day, and feeling at home in it. I imagine someday I will feel so at home, it will be time to go.

Loss comes to us sharply at this time of year and this time in human history. This pandemic has demanded a deepening, a going inside the self, with nowhere to hide, no defenses, or distractions but unadulterated reality. This is the reckoning. What is important? What feeds my soul? What starves it?

Night is not without light or colour: Planets. Stars. Galaxies. The moon in all her phases. For those of us in the higher latitudes, the northern lights.  What if darkness and light are not necessarily opposites, but mirrors of each other, real by contrast, fundamentally connected?

Some limits we grow through. Some are temporary and we learn to weather them. Some spur creativity and innovation. Then there are losses which are irretrievable. The loss of a child, a loved one. A people. A language. Species loss.

Perhaps this season is most about Mystery. The reality of death and the continuance of life and the dance between them. Because there is space, story can enter in. Memories of people and place. Imaginings of what could be.




  1. m.j.thibodeau
    December 20, 2020

    audrey your sharing is awe inspiring ~ fear ~ why is it birthed in our psyche ? Is fear an awakening to the Light within?

    grateful for the LIGHT you send through your own evolution ~ for so many ~

    and for me i am grateful ~ j.

  2. Audrey Brooks
    December 20, 2020

    “What is important? What feeds my soul? What starves it?” These are the nuclear questions about our lives. Well said. So many of your stories parallel mine and the lives of your other followers, Audrey. I still plan my trips around my neighbourhood to avoid traffic, and no longer go out at night without a companion. I don’t fear the day, but our area is now unsafe. We have break-ins and attacks that never happened a few years ago. Stresses on families, and homeless people are the norm. Yet there is joy in seeing new families with young children who visit me in my yard; there is balance between fear and building friendships, if we are aware. We must reason together in these dark times in order not to be overwhelmed, and see both the dark and the light. Blessings to you, may the long time sun shine again, and the beauty of spring illuminate your days. Hugs, the other Audrey

  3. Pearl E Gregor
    December 20, 2020

    I love your solstice posting as always. My experience with darkness is very different. A homestead child, we played hide n’go seek late into the darkness on a fall evening. Of course, it wasn’t really that late. But for my brothers and I, to be out when the bats began their trek into the night was particularly wonderful. We watch them leave the barn loft in the very near darkness of dusk. My mother loved “gloaming” and sang softly as the darkness arrived in its fullness.

    Now as an adult, a healer and dream worker, I have come to understand the darkness as the friend of my inner growth. And so, darkness illumines my inner world and enables and greening of the soul in the rich darkness. For as you muse, darkness and light are mirrors of each other. And in the dark of winter, in the conjunction of the planets on this December 2020 Solstice, we face the deepening mystery of death on many sides and even there in that death we know that every dying is accompanied by a new life growing. Be well, my friend.

  4. Anita Jenkins
    December 21, 2020

    Interesting. I am 76 and have lived in the centre of Edmonton for about 55 of those years. I observe the rules for personal safety, but I have never been afraid to be walking out on the streets or on public transit up to about 10 pm. What is wrong with me?

  5. Henny Vroege
    December 21, 2020

    Thank you, Audrey, for sharing some of the personal stuff in your life.

    I lived in Edmonton for 38 years, and rarely walked outside at night. I did appreciate how the moon, reflected on the snow, would give a beautiful lightness to the night.

    I have very little fear now – is that because I’m older?

    I love and appreciate your musings/postings, Audrey. Blessings and love to you.

  6. Carolyn Pogue
    December 22, 2020

    Thank you. Good words for this holy season.

  7. Linda Bumstead
    December 22, 2020

    Dear Audrey,
    As usual, I find your blog really resonates with me.
    My neighborhood (Grandin in Oliver) is pretty safe and busy at night. Lots of dog walkers and young people about. We do have some disadvantaged people but they mostly seem harmless and we often exchange greetings during the day.
    But it seems I feel more frightened when I am out alone in the evening than I used to be. I put in down to aging (and my sister’s nagging).
    I really like your idea of accepting fears and the risks of living. Especially the thought that someday you will feel so at home, it will be time to go. It speaks of accepting life and death and I would like to think I can grow towards that acceptance of life and death.
    Thank you for your blog. It really helps me look at important issues and also appreciate the beauty of the world.
    All the best,

  8. Audrey
    January 3, 2021

    Thank you. I have been pondering all your comments, so insightful, as usual. What comes to me, is that our fears take many shapes and forms (darkness and neighbourhoods but two), and are often accompanied by possibility. May the dream of this New Year bring hope and peace.