On Winter Solstice

An unabashed lover of the seasons, solstices and equinoxes have long held fascination for me. That we have a day and a half of sunlight in June and a night and a half of darkness in December keeps me coming back for more. Not like I have a choice, I know, but I do enjoy the shakeup from the norm.

In the early 2000s, I began a sort of ritual observation of the summer solstice in honor of the sunlight and best-friend-growing-up. We were 32 at the time, gently feeling our way into a new form of adult friendship after a falling our the year after graduation, when a minor car accident dislodged a blood clot from her recent childbirth, resulting in her death on the day she was to leave the hospital. It reminded me of how short life is, and I began observing the summer solstice by waking with the sun (which I do naturally), but not retiring indoors until the last tiny slivers of sunlight are replaced by starlight, which averages 15.5 hours. I spend the last several hours each year writing her a letter and journaling, a rather nice finish to such a lengthy day. (I wrote about this day in 2020 here).

The winter solstice is just as interesting a creature, granting us just over 7 hours of sunlight and filling the rest with an inky soup that leaves most people complaining about the cold, rather than appreciating the pause. I realized that I don’t really have any kind of ritual for this solstice, other than to amaze with my little-known fact that we average 2.7 more minutes of sunlight each day following the winter solstice.

What I want is for people to appreciate the solstice in its own right. In our crush to get things done and have everything just so, we tend to skip over things that don’t meet with our satisfaction. It got me to thinking about the lovely things we can gain from the solstice, the gifts we can get, and that thought morphed itself into a meditation, as have many random thoughts in these days of finishing my certification.

I wrote it out, recorded it, and added it to my fledgling YouTube channel. You can listen (I’ll link it below) or simply enjoy an excerpt:

The winter solstice is a time for comfort and reflection. It is a time for knowing the sun is there, in the sky, in the world, but it is honoring us by asking us to go deeply inside so that we may find our own truths that have been hidden, that have not been explored because we have not allowed ourselves this gift of pause.

When we become aware of our breath, we become aware of ourselves. It is in this flow, this infinite give-and-take, this pure and natural syzygy, that calms our fears even when darkness falls. We know there is light, abundant, lush, plentiful, nurturing, because we see it in the candle’s glow on the windowsill as snowflakes fall in winter, because we feel it in the soft yellow hue of the frosty cold sunrise over the December horizon and the orange-streaked sunset at the end of a hard day. We know we can release ourselves into the safety of this darkness because we will have light again. We need not fear or loathe the darkness and cold for without it, there would be no balance of joyous light.

Find something beautiful in the solstice today and carry it with you. There is only one winter solstice…enjoy.

Snuggle under blankets for a listen:

Winter Solstice: Embracing Darkness Guided Meditation


Stonehenge image courtesy: Howard Walsh from Pixabay

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