Why I Believe
Since time immemorial this season has asked us to believe. As the days whittle down to their shortest points in the Northern hemisphere, belief is the fuel that burns the brightest, keeping the heart alight while we wait for the return of the light. The Winter Solstice was the most important yearly earth event for our ancestors. Some of the world’s most magnificent earthworks, including Stonehenge and the Temple of Karnak in Egypt, were built specifically to align to sunrise on this powerful day.
The return of the sun was never a given to our ancestors— it was a gift. One that they fed with their gratitude, their songs, their evergreen wreaths, and their belief. Once upon a time, belief wasn’t something that divided us into ideological camps, it was the motion of bringing the full innocence of our hearts to this human experience. Belief is our willingness to greet the unseen forces that surround us and say— I trust. I trust that I am being cared for. I trust that there is a wider plan. I trust that there is more than I can see, and that no matter how dark it gets, I trust the light will come back to me.
Every year this season seems to ask me the same question my ancestors pondered— what do I believe? Being bombarded from every corner with advertisements, it’s easy to start believing some strange things. Like, if I don’t buy enough special gifts for those I care about, somehow I’ll be less lovable. But I think the beliefs that we are asked to renew each Solstice season are so much kinder. A belief in generosity. A belief in the goodness of things coming. A belief in a great, benevolent mystery that is always here to help us, even when we lose our ability to believe. Every once in a while we have an encounter where we are asked…what do you believe? One morning a few weeks ago, I had just that type of experience when I woke up to a text from my aunt… nearly a month to the date after she had passed away.
If you were following this newsletter back in early November you might know that my Aunt Sharon transitioned just a few days after Samhain. As we entered the holiday season this year I found myself thinking a lot about how, beyond the marketing ploys, there really is a deep stream of magic that runs through these dark nights. And how, on the days leading up to Solstice, anything feels possible. Then, the morning of our first real snow, I woke up to text from my aunt. It said, “Wanna talk?” Still half asleep, this didn’t strike me as odd at first. Waking up slowly, however, the wonder of the moment finally dawned on me…. my aunt who passed….just texted me!
My mind immediately went to all the ways a skeptic might write this off— perhaps it was an old text that never sent? Maybe someone had her phone and sent it accidentally? Maybe her number was transferred, and that person texted me? But for all the questions I was fielding from this imaginary skeptic, the core of me was unmoved. It didn’t matter where the text came from or how it got onto my phone. I knew that it was my Aunt reaching out. I believed. And that belief was more honest, more precious, more real, than any line of questioning could ever be.
My aunt was the definition of a believer. She was one of the only people in my family I could talk to openly about things like crystals or spirit guides. She was also one of the most positive people I have ever met— even as she dealt with the hardships of cancer, she always found the stars in the night sky. I took a page from her book that morning and texted back, “I’d love to.” Then, later that day, I sat down and lit a candle and ‘called’ her. What happened next was as subtle and magnificent as the snow that was falling outside my window. I spoke to her with my heart, and I could feel her respond with a flurry of love, falling gently all around me like light. Afterwards, I knew that there would be no way to “prove” this to anyone— the most profound experiences are often inexplicable— but I also realized that making someone else believe isn’t what mattered. What mattered was that I believed. And maybe that was why she reached out in the first place, to remind me of what a truly precious gift belief can be.
Life is a process of sifting through all the beliefs we’ve been handed and asking ourselves which ones are the most life-giving. We must keep the ones that bring us alive and let go of the rest. Everyone’s beliefs are different. I think this is part of what makes humans so beautiful. But it is up to us to nurture the beliefs that give us the courage to continue on.
As we move towards the last few days of darkness before the light of the Winter Solstice, it is a powerful time to take inventory of what you believe. Set aside some time before the Solstice on Saturday to sit down and make a list of your core beliefs. If there are things that aren’t on that list, but you wish were, try adding them with the addendum “I’m working on believing…”. We are just a few weeks away from beginning a whole new decade. Perhaps, instead of resolutions, all we need to embrace this powerful turning point is to ask ourselves…what beliefs do I want to bring with me into this new year?
I believe many things. But I believe most strongly in the idea that there is goodness within each of us. That every ending is a beginning. And that there is more magic than we could ever even attempt to explain on this earth… which is just fine, because we were never meant to explain it. We are just here to experience it.
If you want your heart to soar in a bit of a happy jig today, take a listen to this song.