Today is the winter solstice here in the northern hemisphere, that point in the year when the ever increasing darkness is in a single instant reversed and the light begins its gradual return. We’re scarcely able to notice this in our powered up, climate controlled lives, but sometime in the next few weeks we’ll begin to experience the afternoon becoming longer, little by little. To most of us it’s largely a matter of convenience, our routines shifting gradually with the seasons without much thought.
Imagine though, what it must have been like for our ancestors dating back before cars and electricity or insulated dwellings, before supermarkets, malls, holiday shopping and Netflix. They were cold and hungry and it was very, very dark– getting darker every day. What was there to do but build large fires and gather round with whatever food was available, seeking solace and survival in community. Sound familiar?
It must have been hard to have faith that things would get better, but they watched and waited for that miracle moment when the darkness began its retreat, ever so slightly. They knew what was coming because they had been observing these things for a long, long time. They built sacred sites to commemorate it, places that affirmed the ebb and flow of life and light, that gave hope for survival. They believed, in the deepest part of their being, the promise of this dance between earth and the heavens– that the light would always return.
We are not that different from our ancestors. Whatever holiday we might be celebrating this season, the metaphors of hope, faith and renewal are there for all of us. As much as we try to separate ourselves into beliefs, traditions, politics, religion or race, we all have this in common. We are humans inhabiting a miraculous, benevolent home we call earth.
Here’s to remembering the promise of the solstice and our human connection to this beloved planet as we all begin another turn around the sun.
Joy of the season to you and yours!
(photo via the Old Farmer’s Almanac)