but then we move toward the light steadily, every day brightening second by second, imperceptibly yet irreversibly. What relief!
I've spent time researching the winter solstice this month. Many of our Christmas habits find their origin, in fact, in solstice traditions. The lights on our houses and trees, our varieties of candles, pine wreaths, the Yule log, wassail... all of these are related to the quieting of nature, the dimming of light that reaches its depth on December 21. Christmas bears these transported symbols well enough, since Jesus Christ is often compared to light, even the stumbling-over-themselves-with-awe hyperbole offered by the Gospel writers: "Light of the World."
Solstice holds a lot of potential for creating a metaphorical framework of darkness giving way to light. While we still love our Christmas, it felt like a good time to re-up, to take that "longing for light" feeling and do something practical with it. So we're celebrating solstice on Monday night this year. A few of the things we're doing excite me:
- Giving handmade gifts to each other
- Creating a huge bonfire with last year's Christmas tree
- Tossing notes into that fire (one set: regrets from the previous year; one set: hopes and wishes for coming year)
- Making lanterns out of food cans (using hammer and nails, you puncture the cans in decorative patterns, glue gun a tea light to the bottom and light them, lining your drive and walk ways)
- Making beeswax candles from Hearthsong
- Rolling pinecones in peanut butter and birdseed to create ornaments on our pines and firs for our visiting backyard birds
- Drinking wassail
- Turning off the electricity for the evening and living by candlelight
- Reading poetry about light and dark, nature, hope over regret and loss
- Painting tea light holders for candles
Since you can't join me, feel free to list your regrets (if you feel inward permission to do it) and your hopes and wishes for the coming year in the comments section. I'll type them up, print them out and toss them onto our bonfire for you. I have been ruminating about both for some time. Even the process of contemplating regrets balanced against hope has been cleansing.
Thank you for being a source of light in a dark year for me (all of you who have been especially supportive). In case you wonder, we are well enough (all of us)... we're coming through the hard part and moving into what feels like release and hope. There's something to be said for going through a passage of dark waters. None of us wants to. We don't volunteer for it. But when you go through, you learn about yourself and about others which promotes awe, compassion and love. So much better than hiding or pretending. (In case you were wondering...)
May you move gently into the womb of darkness this weekend.