After the Longest Night

Rising Sun over national park scenic by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

Last night I observed the solstice and kept vigil with two different groups of people. In one, we celebrated a simple ritual drama where the waning sun of the old year was transformed into the waxing sun of the new. The other was an informal, all-night gathering where the group committed to having at least one person awake at all times to tend the fire, ensuring that the sun would rise again in the morning. My night was full of hugs and kisses, homemade soup and bread, and gifts of chestnuts and blessed gold coins. An old friend led singing with his guitar, and we giggled our way through carols and folk-rock essentials, making up new harmonies and sometimes coming together in moments of soaring beauty.

The world didn’t end yesterday: at least, not in a different way than it usually does. But the winter solstice always offers opportunities for reflection on the year that’s passing away, and a reorientation to the future — at least, if we don’t let the hustle and bustle of secular holiday culture overwhelm us. I feel blessed to be part of communities that focus on love and relationship, music and meaning during this delicate time of turning.

My friend Grove Harris says that at the solstice, paradigm shifts are possible. This morning, I’ve awoken refreshed, full of plans for the year ahead. May ’13 be a lucky number for us all!

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