“Happy Solstice,” a friend texted me today. “The shortest day of the longest fucking year of our lives.”
Yeah. That pretty much sums up 2020. I use the F word selectively, but if ever a year warranted it, it’s this one.
The Gregorian, human-made, calendar will banish this miserable year at midnight on Dec. 31 – but Solstice is the real turning point.
Solstice has always been my turning point. As a northerner. having grown so far North that the sun barely graced the horizon each December, Winter Solstice was cause to cheer. The Latin “Sol” with “sistere” describes the sun becoming still. It doesn’t really still, of course – but we can imagine. Imagine the spheres coming to rest, resetting, resuming refreshed. Or, if you prefer, rebooting. And if there were ever a year that deserves the boot, it’s 2020.
We need to celebrate Solstice after months of gathering darkness and cold, of stocking shelves, of summoning stoicism. We need to know there is hope glowing at the end of this dark tunnel. The cold will remain a while, the pandemic endures, but from Dec 22 onward, the days will lengthen, until the sun lingers in the soil and on our skin, and its warmth brings new life.
These days I live in Vancouver, a multicultural Canadian community that has adapted, mixed, and matched seasonal practices, including among others Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Asian traditions. We West Coasters pick and choose from them, enjoy at will.
And then there’s Solstice. Solstice is the most universal, the oldest, the obvious, the only seasonal tradition of truly galactic dimensions.
As on every Solstice, but in particular this year, we relinquish regrets, count blessings, light lanterns to illuminate another journey around the sun.
Image credit: My words imprinted on public domain photo by astronaut Ron Garan on the International Space Station, 2011