Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice: Look to the Light; Incubate the Hope

It has come at last: the Winter Solstice. After today, the shortest day of the year--we could say the darkest, the light begins to return as the sun grinds to a halt on its southern transit away from us and begins its journey back to us. After this the days get longer and longer, and warmer and warmer. This is the beginning of those long summer evenings on the water.

Sunlight on Earth, on the day of the winter solstice.
Notice that the northern polar region of Earth is in 24-hour darkness,
while the southern polar region is in 24-hour daylight.
 (From EarthSky)

I came across a poem years ago that I cannot find today, but I remember its central image, that it is the very friction of that cosmic change of direction that produces the heat and light of the coming days. In our own lives we know in our bones, we have taken in the hard-earned lesson, that light--enlightenment--comes only through friction, as old ways of thinking and old ways of living grind up against new revelation.

This, then, is the day for new beginnings, for shifting our own direction, for recommitting to the light, however you define that in your life.

As for me, I take inspiration from this poem:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him is life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5)

And also from this one. This is a translation of a haiku by Seibi written in 1816:

spring in winter
a ray of light strikes
a clutch of eggs

He knew the miracle: there can be spring in winter. The miracle happens--the epiphany strikes us--when a ray of light reveals the presence of  life-yet-to-be. It takes looking--it takes seeing--to find the miracle; and, even after we find it, it is fragile, tenuous, at first. We, like the light itself, need to enfold it in our own protective warmth, thus becoming a part of it. And before long, what we thought was fragile will come into its own with the power of the sun. Life will not be denied: birth will come, and life will endure.

So, as I post this at the exact time of the solstice, I extend this Solstice wish: that we may all look to the light, incubate the hope, and fish long in the coming days.


  1. This is lovely, thank you for your words.

  2. Feeling hopeful in a positive way is energizing for us. Thanks Jim.