A Solstice Blessing
It's funny that the darkest day of the year was one of my brightest. I've been running full speed on obituaries and borough stuff and family and the dogs and Christmas-- work-- the whole year it seems has been a blur-- and then I had all these plans to sit and sip tea and write lovely thoughts each day this week, as a kind of gift to you and myself, and yesterday I got tangled up in phone calls and visits-- and well, the good stuff of life, you know? And since it was winter solstice and my favorite day --it's a sort of tradition for me-- to walk in the woods when they are 'lovely dark and deep', I planned a hike up to a lake to watch the sun set on Santa Claus Mountain, but then my daughter called and said she had to get the kids out in the sunshine and the dog walked while there was still time-- quick! The window between sunrise and set is so very brief.
And so we all walked down the beach, and the girls twirled on the ice just like some of them had danced in the snowflake ballet in the Holly Jolly Follies on Saturday at the Chilkat Center, but with snowsuits and boots and a lot more shouting and stomping trying to break the ice on the tide pools, before the sun set so suddenly-- it was barely 1:00 pm, though technically we had until almost 3:00. The low angle makes it easy for the mountains to block the rays, but the light lingers, although it's a different kind than daylight, a diffused, holier, even heavenly light, it seems in these halcyon days, and on days when the sky is clear, it's my favorite light of the year. Still, we didn't linger, what with the north wind and shade everyone got cold, and the dogs and children were all worn out.
Running errands in town afterwards, Santa Claus Mountain was still glowing- it was almost as if it were saying," Hey, pay attention! The world is wonderful and you are in it and while your at it, a carol or two would be appropriate."
So I did sing, a little bit of the 12 Days of Christmas, which the second graders managed to memorize so well for the school Christmas Concert, and Tom and Pizza Joe parodied with a Haines Christmas list at the Follies aftershow, and then I hummed a little bit of O Holy Night, which young Madeleine sang beautifully all by herself at the Follies, and I was thinking, after shopping for last minute books and wool sock gifts, I'd stop in for a solstice beer at the brewery and thank them for letting the town plug in the lights for the trees on Main St. there, but decided tea would be better, since I was driving, with a grandchild or two to sweeten it, and so headed up the hill to their house instead. On the way home in the dark, I drove by the wild Christmas lights on 1st Ave, and then across to the old Fort all decked for the holidays, and I realized that the darkest time of my year was when the sun was the brightest.
It really is true that while some heavy weather is unavoidable, when it comes to darkness, a string of lights, a candle, a song, alpenglow, and especially the reflected light of love-- of family, friends, a place, a dog, -- can tilt your heart toward peace, and joy and light. May that be true for you.