Finding Solace: The Darkest Day of the Year

Around Christmas some people relive deep grief; of losing a loved one, of feeling a sense of loneliness more acutely. Literally the sky is darkening and amidst all the holiday cheer, our sadness remains.

The winter solstice, this year on December 21, is the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Sunlight shows its face for a mere 8 hours and 46 minutes. That’s almost 16 hours of darkness. 

All of us have experienced grief and loss over the past 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic. And even if you don’t want to dwell on it -- every once in a while a dark day comes.

Finding Solace With Everyday Sanctuary

How do we live, shadowed by loss?
We want to help you pause to remember this year with a practice crafted specifically for times you experience holiday grief.

How Are You Finding Solace?

2020 was a hard year. We were hoping for a much better 2021. We found many of the same disappointments:

  • COVID-19 restrictions
  • Political divisions
  • Distance from loved ones
  • Smaller or postponed celebratory gatherings
  • Global unrest
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Financial insecurity
  • Loss of loved ones
  • Loss of jobs
  • Fill in the blank _____________

We long for normalcy, but as we head into 2022, we may wonder how long we’ll have to wait for it.

Finding solace in spirituality helps us to cope with things we can’t control. We see the light in the darkness and know we aren’t alone. 

This is not to say that spirituality makes the darkness disappear. That hasn’t been my experience. Spirituality isn’t an escape from life’s difficulties. Instead, it helps us find the strength to work through them. 

Those who have practiced spirituality throughout time have found their ways through life’s darkest days with the help of their spiritual practices. Even the writers of sacred scriptures acknowledge that life is hard.

The writer of a well-known prayer for grief in the Bible affirms this when they write, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me (Psalm 23:4).”

You are not alone.  

Spiritual Practices To Bring Hope Beyond Grief

Wondering how to deepen your spiritual practices? Here are three practices we include in each daily practice of the Everyday Sanctuary app: 

  1. Deep Breathing 
  2. Gratitude 
  3. Prayer

Deep Breathing
Breathing is a powerful spiritual practice. Breathing in, I’m reminded of the help that surrounds me and is within me. Breathing out, I begin to let go of the things that weigh down my soul. 

The rhythm of inhale/exhale quiets my weary mind. Spiritually centering myself, I face hardship head on. I see it in a new way. I see solutions I didn’t see before. 

Spiritual breathing isn’t complicated. It can be as simple as breathing in a word like “redemption” and breathing out “is near.” These words can be said aloud or internally.

Author Tosha Silver once wrote, "Gratitude is a healing balm, like the warmth of the sun.” Focusing on things I am thankful for reminds me, even on the darkest days, that light is all around me. 

As a bonus, science has shown that gratitude is associated with wellbeing and having a positive outlook on life.

I find it helpful to write down five gratitudes each day. Doing this daily develops a habit that sustains me in days filled with light or darkness.

Prayer allows you to lift up your desires, wounds, doubts, joys, and gratitudes. Prayer can take on several forms. It can be:

  • Meditation
  • Breathing
  • Journaling
  • Conversation
  • Gratitude
  • Asking for help
  • Going for a walk
  • Kneeling at an altar
  • With others or alone

In the Everyday Sanctuary app, we encourage you to respond to the question, “Where do you need God to be at work in the day or week to come?” Do you need God to be your guide through the darkest day, a sustainer through trying times, a comforter when you feel alone?

Looking For a Daily Sanctuary?

Finding solace spiritually during the darkest days doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Everyday Sanctuary helps busy people have a satisfying faith practice. Take 5 minutes to feel grounded, refreshed, and spiritually connected to God.

Download our free app to breathe deep and seek.

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Pastor Abigail
Creator | Curator of Everyday Sanctuary
Your Spiritual Life Matters
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