Yesterday, those of us in the northern hemisphere were enveloped by that great pillowy darkness, the longest night of the year. Midwinter. Hibernal Solstice. A moment, the world over, lit with ritual fires and festivals of light.
If you think that a little neolithic, just look around. Down my street, lights blink from bare limbs and rooftops; windows glow with trees and menorahs, fires burn in the hearth; the festivals are still going on. In those ancient times, as the sun fell lower each afternoon, communities feared the light might simply abandon them forever. . . and hence, the zeal of the festivals, the dances, the fires, the songs! to ensure the return of the sun god.
Now, we feel fairly certain the sun will begin its crawling arc back into the sky without our help. But I wonder, sometimes, if we are missing out on something the ancients knew. That the light does need us.
What if we lit our fires/trees/candles with the same intention and intensity as those who set out to lure back the warmth of the sun? What if we understood this sequence not as an astronomical given, but as a cycle in need of us, in need of our pageantry and jingle, our celebratory songs and generosity of gifts, our increase of the light?
It's awfully dark out there in so many corners of the world; sometimes in our own. I happen to believe the light is in need of us to extend its grace in the shadowed places. I think it is in need of our kindnesses and beauty, our spirit, our joy. I believe that while the sun may tilt and orbit on its own powers, the radiance we need now comes from within our own glad universes; it glints and grows among us. And then quietly, daily, like the sun, dusts off this difficult year, and begins to rise again.
All the best,