Let There Be Light*
Written by Myra Bennett
Here in the Mid-South, winter is almost here. With the recent frigid temperatures and threats of ice storms, you probably thought winter had arrived. But technically, the Winter Solstice occurs on the night of December 21st, which is the longest night of the year.The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still.” At the Winter Solstice, the Sun’s path seems to stay the same, or stand still. The Sun is directly overhead at “high-noon”. These are the days with the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year.
If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), that can be a problem.
For some people, winter inspires both joy and sadness. Some people can’t wait for the cooler weather, with hopes for snow and (ice skating in Memphis?), curling up by a fire, and the holiday spirit. Other people dislike the cold temperatures and the long dark nights. Science tells us that natural sunlight plays a role in the improvement of our moods. When the body perceives sunlight, serotonin levels increase. And the more sunlight the human body is exposed to, the more serotonin the brain produces [www.scienceblogs.com]. So some people need more light than others to feel good.
That’s why if you have SADs, then a combination of light therapy, talk therapy and possibly medication can help. It also helps if you can exercise…even a little. You also need a social network of people who care about you and who you care about. We all need others to remind us that we are not alone and that depression can be treated.
The winter is a good time to make an honest appraisal of our lives. It is a good time for quiet, hopeful reflection, prayer, and meditation that will lead to action. We can take our cue from Nature. In winter, root systems take up the nutrients and store them in the roots and stems, stimulating vigorous growth next spring. If you take action now and seek help for a depressed or anxious mood, you will be nurturing your body-mind-soul connections back to life.
We know that darkness must yield to light. The sun does come back, and spring will follow winter. These themes can be seen in our Judeo-Christian celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah. These are joyful celebrations surrounded by light and shared faith and the memory that we are not alone in the darkness.
Here on the Front Porch, we keep a candle burning for you to disperse the darkness. Or, I could say that we keep the porch light burning, so to speak.
One of my favorite comedians Steve Martin reminds us that “a day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” That’s all it is…just one night to get through. The darkness doesn’t last forever. We are here to help you get through the tough times.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, we urge you to call the Front Porch and speak to a professional. We understand that reaching out for help can be hard at first; but once you pick up the phone and make the call, it will seem like daylight is breaking through.
*The title is from The Bible, Genesis 1:3