Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter ...

Yesterday we had a lovely Solstice party to celebrate the return of the sun. Six families gathered together to share a potluck lunch, decorate sun cookies, roll beeswax candles, and a have very simple candle lighting ceremony.  We used this Waldorf verse:


The gift of light we thankfully take 
But not shall it be alone for our sake
The more we give light
The one to the other
It shines and it spreads and it glows still further
Until every spark by friends set aflame
Until every heart with joy to proclaim
In the depths of our souls a shining sun glows.
I loved how the kids were quiet for just a few minutes, passing the flame from person to person.  Of course, their reverence didn't last, but we couldn't expect it to.  It is enough to remember the 22 people gathered in a circle, faces illuminated with candlelight, welcoming the sun.
It has been rather bleak lately, with rain and cold, and the sun did not show its face to us yesterday (nor were we able to observe the total lunar eclipse that occurred on the same day as this solstice).  While I generally love the rain (as long as I can stay home) the boys and dogs are done with it, and I'm rather weary of taking dogs out to potty in the rain.  I do hope today is the last of it; I'm ready for a sunny Southern California Christmas.
Still, we have turned the corner back into the light.  I love Christmas as a family holiday and for the joy that it brings my boys, but the Solstice is my personal favorite winter holiday.  When it occurs in the middle of the night I will wake myself and light a candle in the darkness, alone with my thoughts and hopes.  I feel connected to all of humanity; solstices and equinoxes may have had various religious holidays spring up around them but they are scientific phenomena that all people have observed throughout the ages.  In part it is the these natural phenomena that brought about scientific inquiry, giving us a reason to ask Why? and to seek the answers.  The tilt of Earth's axis and the resultant seasons are the reason that life on this planet is possible as we know it.
The Winter Solstice brings hope.  We know that the days will lengthen, the crops will grow, and that we will be warm again.  As much as I enjoy Fall and the crisp, shortening days with the inward turning it brings I also look forward to the outwardness that is Spring in all its glory.  I love the turning of the earth and the cycle of seasons.  Winter is our pause; our coldest weather may be yet to come but the days will grow no shorter. Soon enough it will be time to plant; in the meantime we can plan our gardens.  The busyness of the holiday season passes and we come to a time of reflection and new beginnings.  In my own little family we start again our festival year with New Year celebrations and January birthdays.
So welcome back beloved friend, our dear sun!

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