The Night Time of the Year

In ten days we enter the longest night of the year, in the northern hemisphere, that is. It seems that whenever I glance out the window it is more likely dark than light, even given the fact I sleep a part of the night away. For the past few winters I have found myself getting frustrated and discontent with the dark, pining for those long sunny days.

But this season, entering the night time of the year feels different. Oh, I still need and long for a measure of sun, but I am no longer resenting the nightfall like I did before. I first noticed this internal change while singing “Silent Night, Holy Night” this week. I realized I am beginning to enjoy the silence and holiness of night hours…and not just Christmas eve. I have begun to appreciate darkness, not as the absence of light, but as the time of rest and commending our souls to God. Night Prayer has worked that change. We have started singing night prayer at the end of choir practice every week; it is a beautiful prayer preparing us for a night’s rest, but apparently it has been preparing me for the whole season of deep nights.

And so, on this not so silent and ordinary night, with the bitter wind shaking the black windows, I realize I have fallen in love with these December and January nights, and I wonder if they weren’t always intended to be more like night prayer, more of a silent and holy time. What if this season, when my curve of the earth tips away from the sun, is really an invitation to lean back into God, to confess the wanderings of the past year, to let go of old things, to whisper quietly with our dear ones, to take time to climb into God’s arms and rest? What a gift such a season of long nights would be if we understood its darkness as inviting an overall prayerful purpose!


  1. Your posts have been lyrical and comforting.
    I’m hoping for a book, one of these days.

  2. Thanks, Jean. I’m hoping for a book too, but the publisher remains silent. 🙂

  3. Really gorgeous – and what a comforting way to think of winter. The bears understand this, in hibernation. I wish that we also understood the restorative property of the long nights in such an intuitive way 🙂

  4. Paula, you’ve hit on something there. Hibernation is indeed a good idea for bears. Even though we humans don’t hibernate, maybe we could walk a little more slowly. I’ve been putting in way too many long hours and need to practice what I write. So when the next task comes along that will keep me out from home the 8th night in a row, what if I say, “Sorry I’ve got to hibernate”? Sounds excellent 🙂

  5. Ahhh…you are coming to my way of thinking. I do love the night/darkness, when I can clear my mind while the darkness hides the blare of what keeps me from truly opening my mind and heart to God’s voice. Let the darkness envelop you…breathe deep…