“Peace be with you. The darkest day of the year has come. The silence of winter covers the land, and even the waters are still and frozen. Their clarity reflects the purity of heart that we may all claim in this season. Their mirrored surface reflects our insight and understanding. Let us pray, ‘May there be peace on earth and goodwill towards all’.” ~Joan Borysenko, Pocketful of Miracles
Living in the far north, the Winter Solstice is a greatly anticipated point of the long dark winter. At long last, the globe begins its return towards the sun and the ever-increasing light to the height six months from now. I feel my spirits lift for I know we’re on our way towards summer, more sunlight, and abundant growth.
Today, where I live, the sun is up for less than 8 hours – from 8:35 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. This is less than half the time it’s above the horizon on the Summer Solstice, when it’s up for 16 hours and 33 minutes. I feel sympathy for those people who live even farther north. In the extreme north the sun doesn’t rise for a week around the Winter Solstice, only allowing a faint twilight between 9am and 2pm.
As I contemplate this earthly return towards the light, I also envision humanity’s spiritual return towards ever greater light within us all. This is a prayerful time for offering not only the light of our hearts during meditation and prayer, but also to share our light within through genuine smiles and acts of kindness.
It needn’t cost a thing as we offer a compliment or a gentle word to a frazzled clerk or shopper. We can anonymously shovel a neighbour’s sidewalk or scrape the ice off their windshield. We can gently offer our arm to a senior traversing an icy parking lot or treacherous section of sidewalk, or our hand to someone who has dropped a bag. We can put up sweet posters on public community boards, offering quotes on hope or faith or joy. Our acts of kindness are only as limited as our imaginations!
I will continue to give thanks for my beeswax candles, Christmas tree lights, and outdoor strings of lights adding cheer and warmly illuminating these long nights. I feel gratitude for the blessings that each day brings, but especially today on the Winter Solstice. I feel a burgeoning hope!