It's my favorite night of the year.... the winter solstice. Not so much because I love winter, but because (as most of us, I expect) I don't so much like the dark. Many years ago I banished the whole "new year's resolution" fiasco and starting taking some quiet time on the solstice to review the past year and make goals for the one ahead. Often I shared this day with a friend, and we declared goals aloud over lunch or a fire or a soak in a hot spring.
It can be difficult to take time out for the solstice, coming as it does just a few days before Christmas, but it's time I take for me and that's important.
In recent years we've spent solstice eve in the happy chaos of a big party at the home of friends Susan and Richard. We eat, drink and make merry, and light over a hundred luminarias on the walkway around their house. It's always a festive occasion and Susan and Richard are generous and enthusiastic hosts. They take time for we... and that's important, too.
This year, however, Richard and Susan aren't home. They're up in Denver, where Richard is in the midst of radiation and chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer. Other friends are absent, too... sickness, loss... chronic pain... it's been quite an overwhelming year and a bit of a dark time.
But this is a town full of sparkling people... dark night or no. Earlier this week Susan sent a gentle request, asking readers of her blog to light the darkness wherever they are. A simple request that in the hands of this community spread... well... like wildfire. Those of us who have previously shared the yearly ritual met at Richard and Susan's home this afternoon. We set the luminarias, as always, along the sidewalk and up to their door.
And then.... groups broke off to set luminarias at other homes throughout our town where a little extra light might go a long way.
This evening David and I lit farolitas of our own, and then walked the few blocks back to Richard and Susan's. There we joined a circle of friends sending wishes for light and love and wholeness to friends and family and, indeed, all beings on earth.
In the days since David and I returned from our Big Adventure I've done nothing but run around like a crazy woman. I've had contract deadlines to meet and a Christmas Bird Count to organize and all the other madness that goes with this time of year. My friends are away and going through amazing challenges. Have I been cranky? More than a little. I've been caught inside my head and my obligations and my worries, barely even aware of the presence of the Darling Man. I'm sure you know what I mean.
Tonight our community took some time out for we. We filled bags with sand and candles, we laughed and joked and carried on. We thought of our friends. We held hands.
Lucky for me it's the longest night of the year. That means I still have time to sit down with David, to declare the goals we wrote while we were away. There's still time to put away the work and the worry and fill the dark night with light. There's still time to hold hands.
Better go get out some more candles.