Every Solstice morning, people from all over the world gather to witness something magical.
It all takes place in a 5000 year old mound of earth that’s about 250 feet in diameter and 40 feet tall. It’s a burial mound called Newgrange, and it sits on top of a hill in the middle of green pastures north of Dublin, Ireland.
In this mound is an inner chamber that is dark as night.
A long time ago, it was a sacred temple where ancient people placed the ashes of their deceased loved ones.
But the most remarkable part of Newgrange is what happens on Solstice morning. The ancient architects designed a special entrance to this tomb – a small two foot square opening, about eight feet off the ground – that is perfectly aligned with the rising Solstice sun.
When morning dawns on December 21, light slowly enters the front entrance, illuminating the narrow 80 foot passage into the inner chamber. As the sun climbs in the sky, the inner chamber is fully illuminated leaving no shadow, nor trace of darkness. It doesn’t last long, this illumination, but the effect it has on the soul lasts a lifetime.
This past September, I went inside Newgrange, and although I was not able to be present for the actual event, our tour guide demonstrated the process using artificial lighting. Still, it was breathtaking.
The sunlight filters in through the little window above the main entrance.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes my life feels like that: a tomb of darkness in which the ashes of my former self lay buried, while my dreams sit unrealized, waiting for a glimmer of hope.
In that moment, when all seems darkest and life is more like death, the best thing to do is be still and leave one small opening in our hearts so the light can find its way in. We don’t even have to struggle through the darkness; only know that light will always return, and that we will be illuminated, too.
There are many people who struggle with how to grow the next phase of their lives, especially their lifework. If this is you, and if your inner days are dark as night, may you know that light is always near.
And keep a small part of your heart open so you can receive illumination when the sun finally shines.