Monday, December 21, 2009

A little light on the longest night

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.

The I Street luminarias with a bit of Christmas Mountain rising above.

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.

...and on our steps.

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.


  1. that is such a touching thing for people in the town to do :D very in the spirit of the year, no matter what a person believes in

  2. Last night, around 8:00, I went to la Casa de Cabe y Tweit, taking my single candle to combat the darkness.

    Me of wee, little faith. From Safeway's parking lot, I saw what community and love had wrought.

    This town already continually tugs at my heartstrings. Last evening, I fell deeper still in love with its people.

    These are the gifts for which this season was crafted. May the in-coming year continue upward and onward in kind.

  3. Bless you! We are still riding the wave of love you all sent, and judging by the responses still coming in via email, FB, and cell phone, that wave is still rolling onward. May it carry us all through the dark times!

  4. I'm so touched and honored to be at the receiving end of all this love and kindness, and so happy to see the traditional observance carried forward and elaborated and extended around the community in new ways. Thank you for doing it and thank you for writing about it with such insight.
    Thank You

  5. Salida was always and will always be a great community. A part of my heart will remain in Salida forever.


  6. This is a wonderful post written about we & me (you). Sorry I missed you at Susan & Richard's (it was so nice to be part of spreading the light!). Hope to catch up for some sketching soon!
    XO, Lisa