The December solstice is almost here, and I can feel excitement bubbling in me! Even though here in the Northern Hemisphere this means it’s the first day of winter, I love this day because it also marks the return of more light. It’s a symbol of an important moment for us all.
Growing up in the always warm temperatures of Barbados where I was born, I didn’t pay much attention to seasons. Truth be told, even though I’ve now lived in North America for over 40 years, winter’s still not my favourite season! But the change of seasons is something I’ve learned to really appreciate.
There’s something about the predictable, reliable, count-on-able-ness of the seasons. They’ve joined the familiar symbols of cycle I grew up with – the waves crashing and receeding on the shore, the ebbing and flowing of tides, and the waxing and waning of the moon – that, especially when things in our lives feel overwhelming or out-of-control, are both soothing and centering.
These cycle related symbols all remind me of the Harry Chapin song All My Life’s a Circle – he sings it here live …
When the leaves tumble from the trees in the fall, we don’t rush out and try to glue them back on, and in the winter when the trees are bare, we don’t worry that they’re dead. We trust that in the spring – whenever that arrives – those gorgeous first new yellow-green leaves will reappear.
Though skiers and other winter sports lovers might argue, there are those like me who celebrate the part of the cycle turning where the snow melts, and the first signs of spring appear. While I don’t actually want to wish any moment of life away – life is SO precious – the truth is that some moments are harder to be with. Each of us meets our own painful or challenging experiences.
December is a time when many of us gather with families and friends to celebrate all kinds of holidays – Diwali, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and others. I’m one of those who loves connecting with my extended family, and (even in our differences) feel blessed by the love and support I experience there.
But for some, family gatherings aren’t comfortable or celebratory, and there are many in our world for whom the idea of celebrating anything feels impossible. Even for those who generally find delight at the holidays, there are times when the seasons of life pay no attention to our calendars. My daughter Rachael works with kids in hospice, several of whom have died this month and whose families are forever changed, and I have a friend who in these last days has been sitting at the bedside of her Dad who is dying.
How do we meet these more painful moments in the cycle of life?
In times that feel dark and despairing, the understandable protective human impulse in us to turn away, or distract ourselves in an attempt to avoid the ache and pain is strong.
The rising December solstice sun at Stonehenge
These are the moments when anchoring into the symbol that the December solstice points us to can be a big support. The invitation seasons and cycles offer us is to remember that they do turn, and it’s at this darkest point in the cycle that the light begins to return.
What if in remembering this as best we can, we allowed each moment to be what it is? How might our being as present as we can to whatever is happening make a difference to our experience of life – both the painful and the delightful moments? Might this allow us to be more open and curious about what else is possible here?
What if we honoured our humanity, and appreciated that in each moment, our response is the best we can muster right now? Might we not be more likely from that space, to be able to wonder how we might nurture ourselves right here? That attentiveness to our own needs makes it more likely that the next time we meet that kind of situation we’ll be able do so with greater ease?
Seasons and cycles is one of the ways l see and feel the abundance of life. As long as we’re alive, there’ll be opportunity for us to learn and grow, to expand our capacity to meet life with greater presence, ease, and creativity. AND, to remember that we DON’T have to always be operating at full capacity.
There are moments when it’s easier for us to show up full of light and in delight. And times when what we’re being called to is more quiet reflection.
Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, I am holding you in love and the possibility that you be gentle with yourself and those around you. That the symbol of this turning of the seasons might be whichever you most need right now – an anchor that grounds and centers you, or an invitation for you to be the fullest expression you can be in this moment, of the person you came here to be. Our world is hungry for the unique light you offer! If there’s a way I can serve you in this, I’d love to hear from you.