Last night was the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. The word Solstice, derived from the Latin Sol (sun) and Sistere (stand still), describes the phenomena where the sun, at it’s lowest point in the sky, appears to stand still before reversing direction and then beginning to ascend again. That point occurs today at 10:58 am ET. Tomorrow, the new sun rises.
We are in the north on the Medicine Wheel; the time of earth, the elder, the midnight sky, the white buffalo, death and the giveaway. In the Northern Hemisphere, there is no other time we are less congruent with earth’s wisdom than now. When the natural world folds in a dark embrace, we too should slow down and turn inward. These final days are the last exhale of a year that has passed for most of us in a hurry. Despite hopes to “return to normal” it has been more chaos and urgency. But, as poet and writer/theologian John O’Donohue says:
“The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared.
Nothing is rushed.”
One of the hidden gifts of darkness is a renewed appreciation of poverty and all its many faces – hunger, loneliness, longing. And while it’s painful, it’s also healing, for it often brings us together, maybe more so than abundance.
There is poverty in the winter season. It is an emptiness that does not evoke lack but surrender, an invitation not to absence but to presence. Winter is the oldest season. It waits for the parade of colors to pass then arrives quietly in a cloak of gray, reminding us that there is reverence in the simple things; heat, light.
I invite you to seek the mystery of silence in this holy time. Honor the Solstice Sun, the Christ Child or the Hanukkah, Divali, or Kwanzaa Light. Look to the western sky at night for the just full moon. Below her, rising above the horizon, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter shining in the night sky.
It is necessary for me to see the first point of light that begins to be dawn.Thomas Merton
It is necessary to be present alone at the resurrection of Day in solemn silence at which the sun appears. For at this moment all the affairs of cities, of governments, of war departments, are seen to be the bickering of mice.
I receive from the Eastern woods, the tall oaks, the one word DAY.
It is never the same.
It is always in a totally new language.
A Solstice Song
May the long time sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on