It was the day of the Winter Solstice and the supposed Mayan Apocalypse. That morning, my wife kissed me goodbye–she was off to meet her friend Suzanne, whom she reconnected with from childhood. “Have fun,” I told her. “Thanks,” she replied, “I’ll see you later, I love you.”
I wish I would have known that was the last moment of normalcy in our marriage.
The Winter Solstice is an astrological event and the longest night of the year. It’s recognized and celebrated for survival, role reversals and to venerate life-death-rebirth deities. After that long stretch of darkness, the next day marks when the light begins to return, just a little at a time, leading us to spring and rebirth and renewal. In many ways, it’s an ending, a death. An apocalypse.
Apocalypse comes from the Greek, apokalypsis and means, “the unveiling of unseen realities, both in heaven as it is now and on earth as it will be in the future.” The word is associated with the Book of Revelations, a cosmic event revealed through a series of symbols and visions that some believe denote the end of the world.
The truth is that we experience apocalypses many times in our lives–seasons begin and end, parts of us die and are reborn. We transform and hopefully grow stronger and more beautiful each time. We’ve all been pruned to the ground and then the spring arrives and newly formed buds appear. We lose jobs, we lose loved ones, we lose homes and our health and relationships. There is no escaping the apocalypses, but they don’t have to indicate only endings, death, and destruction–there’s another part as well. “The unveiling of unseen realities, both in heaven as it is now and on earth as it will be in the future.”
The unveiling of unseen realities.
Is it better to see truth in the light of day rather than to hide in the darkness? Those who have eyes will see, and the rest of us are in denial; the veils drape over the truth that we don’t want to know, or can’t face and hide us from the realities that exist. The apocalypse unveils those realities because in order to grow, we must have light.
The unveiling hurts. We see what we didn’t know was there–the unseen realities of ourselves, of others, and of our situations. What we see usually shocks us, shakes us, and breaks us down to the point of utter despair and destruction often pushing us to the very brink of death–so close that we can feel its arms reach out for us. Death flirts with us, gently kissing our necks and luring us towards its will. It would be a welcome relief from our anguish and we want to go there–we long to be taken in Death’s arms, swaddled in its dark robes and lulled off to a place where our pain doesn’t exist and we aren’t forced to regard the unseen realities that have been veiled.
Most of us aren’t that lucky; we don’t drift away with Death and instead are obliged to find a way to gather up the broken pieces of our hearts, our lives, and our souls and sit with the uncertainty of what is to come–the “Negative Capability” in the vicissitudes of life.
My apocalypse, my unveiling of unseen realities, came on the Winter Solstice when Cher kissed me goodbye and I went about the business of our lives: going to Costco, planning Christmas Dinner, shopping for stocking stuffers, and wrapping gifts to put under our tree. I didn’t know that Suzanne, this person my wife barely knew, and had reacquainted with just five days before, was the unseen reality that would be unveiled. I didn’t know that evening, as I sat in our living room with a glass of Cabernet wondering when she would be home, would be the last night of my life as I knew it.
I didn’t know, until blanketed in a quilt of lies, Cher walked into our bedroom the next morning and said, “I have something to tell you…”
The Winter Solstice reminds us that we managed to live through the darkness and will soon awaken to light, and the realities in heaven as it is now, and on earth as it will be in the future.