There are Powerful Ways to Contribute During Dark Times

by | Dec 3, 2023 | Anxiety | 12 comments

The news. World pain. The suffering of humans. Earth’s pain. The descent into the darkest time of year. Darkness is everywhere.

How do we stay afloat when the darkness edges in?

There are many ways.

We re-commit to our practices so that we make of ourselves an island of light amidst the darkness.

When we shut the screens and walk in silence we can return to our true home, the shelter within that creates a shelter without.

We light candles and sing and dance with and through the dark, remembering that our bodies are infinite vessels of light and that song elevates the soul.

Winter is for song.
One voice or many, lifted on stillness,
so clear against dark night sky.
The trees that give and give in the other three seasons
now receive our song.
Notes burrow like warm heart pockets,
held in reserve for the nights when sap freezes.
Do not forsake us, beseech the trees.
And we respond with song.

We learn how to befriend the dark, stirring fear into the cauldron of night until it alchemizes into trust. From this dark, comes light. Not the light of denial, but the light that is born from luminous dark. The light that knows fear, carries it like a beam in the belly.

There is no other way but this: to hold, to hold, not to bury, but to lay bare all that lives in the heart for those we love and place the bowl of our loving into a lap bigger than our own.

We open to the energy of these months, which invite us into deeper layers of clarity, grace, and joy.

It is said that the holidays are the most joyful time of year. Setting aside the obvious challenges that accompany the holidays, I’d like to invite in the idea that, on a spiritual level, there is an influx of joy available to us during these darker weeks and months, especially the month of December. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many traditions celebrate light within the darkness and encourage us to look for miracles right now.

The question often arises in my work: How can I feel joy when there is so much suffering in the world?

Imagine this: when we experience joy and pleasure, we are sending sparks of light into the unseen field around us. It’s as if our joy is a supercharger that sends a circuit of joy around the world. Our joy, then, becomes a gift, and is one way that we can contribute during dark times. Joy is light, and light protects.

There are, of course, more outer, actionable steps we can – and must – take to contribute during dark times, but I think we all know what those are. It’s the inner actions that we tend to forget about, or minimize, falling into the Western mindset that it’s only what we can see that matters.

Your joy matters. Your light matters. Your love matters. So much more than you think.


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  1. This was so helpful to read, Sheryl. From one sensitive soul to another, THANK YOU for the spaces you create and invite us to open, to see hope and light and possibility, even in dark times. This has been such a heavy time, especially for those of us who feel deeply, to witness the trauma and darkness that is happening. Thank you for reminding us that we are not alone, and that joy brings light. Joy strengthens us to do the work of advocacy, to change the things we want to change in the world. It is a partner for change.

    • Thank you! A very nice balm for the soul on a cold winters night. There was an old song “Heartlight”. Turn on your heartlight, let it SHINE wherever you go, let it make a happy glow for all the world to see.” Let your heart shine indeed. Thank you again. Grateful.

      • Ah, yes, I remember that song! Glad the post was a warm balm on a cold night :).

    • This is so beautifully articulated, Amber; thank you. Big YES to this: “Joy strengthens us to do the work of advocacy, to change the things we want to change in the world. It is a partner for change.”

  2. Thanks, Sheryl. This is so helpful to read. Even though it’s spring/summer here, I’ve had a lot of pain and grief and sadness arise the past few weeks, cycling in and rising up and then flowing back out. Perhaps the pain felt like there was someone who could handle it after all the work I have done to create space for my feelings. There is light and darkness in all times of the year, and this is a good reminder for me. It’s really hard to remember that pain arising is good because when we let it, we experience joy too. I always remember what you said to a group member on a call once: You get to experience your own joy first. It’s one of my mantras. So grateful for you always, thank you. ❤️

    • I’m always grateful for your thoughtful comments, George. And yes, there is always darkness and light, no matter which hemisphere you’re in :). XOXOXO

  3. Thank you Sheryl! This helps! 💗

  4. Beautiful as always, thank you Sheryl

    • Thank you, Joshua. And thank you for sharing yet another beautiful poem.


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