The Winter Solstice • Anticipate the Return of the light • Appreciate the importance of the Dark
Blessings on the Winter Solstice! Thank you for being in my life in so many different ways. Here are 3 simple gifts to invite you to pause during the holidays, to receive the silence and darkness as an offering. Let gratitude brighten your way back to the the light, your light.
On this darkest day of the year, let’s celebrate the return of the the light as we honor those long hours of darkness. I know! Some of you are in the Southern Hemisphere. You are celebrating the first day of Summer. Some of you up North, are affected by the dark, especially when there is no snow to reflect the light. I sleep more for sure, but I like the dark. Some say I’m a bat! And my skin takes on a grey-green hue. Beyond that, I like the dark and the cold.
A lighthearted gift full of light and friends and celebration
The Shortest Day
And so the shortest day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of that snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing to drive the dark away.
They lit candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreens;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake,
They shouted, reveling!
Through all the frosty ages, you can hear them
Echoing behind us.
All the long echoes sing the same delight this shortest day.
As promise wakens in the sleeping land,
They carol, feast, give thanks, and dearly love their friends.
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now.
This year and every year: Welcome, Yule!
–Susan Day Cooper
Because it’s both the Winter Solstice AND the Full Moon – a gift from me
The Moon Full of itself
In the crisp, silent pre-dawn of the Winter Solstice
The Soul source for the snow sparkle
Tho’ I feel like an intruder, unnoticed, I take my seat.
Quieting my familiar early morning chatter
Breathing in the cold brilliance of that light
I intent on meaning in these dark days
Aware that my embrace of winter’s gifts is fragile
Nothing’s there to disturb the sweetness of the moment
As I sit and watch that magnificent orb descend
The growing light in the East greedy to grab the stage
Intrudes upon my reverence
My mind churns, my impatience returns
Daybreak and something must be done
A disquiet overtakes me sending me to face the day
Every day is a gift to be earned both in quiet solitude and full attention
The dark and the light dance and beckon me to join
I claim my part in the celebration of these dark days, as witness not intruder.
~ Janet Savage, December 2018
And from one of my Favorite Poets – a 2018 reflection
FINDING THE HOLY IN THE HOLIDAYS:
Holiness is the center that holds all peripheries; the pure internal absence that makes sense of everyone who comes to visit; the hidden ground beneath feet always running to look for gifts, the held note of a song that leaves a chapel silent or the stopped listener still and attentive in the busiest, most glittering street. Holiness is the deep internal, cathedral space where nothing is allowed to happen, thus allowing all other things to happen, a gravitational field of invitation and gathering and a radical letting alone, of family, of food, of perspectives, what is wanted is reached through letting go, by giving up on willed perfection.
Holiness is the rehabilitation of the discarded; the un-celebrated and the imperfect, into new unities, perceived again as gift. Holiness is the bringing of the detailed outside into the vast unspoken and horizon-less inside, from where the inside seems to give again, re-simplifying the periphery, our everyday life transformed as if by simply breathing, breathing in and breathing out, back to the world.
Holiness is memory independent of time, not time as besieging force in which we run around getting things done but time radiating out from the place where we stand, welling from the unspoken that holds together all words said at the busy surface; holiness marries hurry to rest, stress to spaciousness, and joy to heartbreak in our difficult attempt to give and receive, dissolving giver and receiver into one conversation, untouched by the hurry of the hours.
Holiness is not in Bethlehem, nor Jerusalem, nor the largest, most glittering, mall, unless we are there in good company, with a friend, with a loved one, with our affections, with our best and most generous thoughts, most of all with a deep form of inhabited silence, a natural, grounded, central conversation with what and how we like to give and how we can be large enough to receive. Holiness is coming to ground in the essence of our giving and receiving, a mirror in which we can see both our virtues and our difficulties, but also, a doorway to the life we want beyond any particular form of exchange. Holiness is the star we did not know we were following.
Holiness is beautiful beckoning uncertainty: not knowing married to knowing heartbreak, time celebrated and time already gone so quickly, departed love ones as present as arriving children. Holiness dissolves the prison of time and lies only one short breath from the present busy moment: one look into the starry darkness of the mid-winter sky at the midnight hour, one glance at a son or a daughter’s face, home through the door; one sight of a distressed friend alone in the midst of a crowded celebration. Holiness is a step taken not to the left or to the right, but straight through present besieging outer circumstances, to the core of the pattern we inhabit at the very center of the celebration. Holiness is reached not through effort or will, but by stopping; by an inward coming to rest; a place from which we can embody the mid-winter spirit of our days, a radical, inhabited simplicity, where we live in a kind of on-going surprise and with some wonder and appreciation, flawed and far from perfection, but inhabiting the very center of a beautiful, unlooked for giftedness.
Finding the Holy in the Holidays
© David Whyte
Mid-Winter Thoughts © 2018
Sending you warmest of light to guide you into 2019.