Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Only four more days and I can celebrate the Winter Solstice!

100_5426I don’t like cold and I don’t like dark, so reaching the cusp, looking over the crest and down toward warmer and lighter days warms me. January marks the onslaught of seed catalogs, and they can’t arrive a moment too soon. A friend refers to the bounty of catalogs as “garden porn.”

What a perfect word choice! Slowly I turn the pages of the glossy catalogs brimming with flowers  – all in full bloom – none faded or drooping with blight. Aphids? What aphids? The unblemished, heritage vegetables, straight from Grandma’s garden, get my heart racing. I lick my lips and savor the fruits on offer. Taking in the scent of the flowers, I inhale deeply. My fantasy garden takes off. I am a porn star, and we will film in the garden across the arched bridge inside the gazebo next to the water feature under the weeping willow.

Lake DeWeese at dawn.

Lake DeWeese at dawn.

I’m sorry to have missed Custer County’s annual Christmas Chorale. How heart-warming it is to sit in the pews at Hope Lutheran Church and listen to seasonal music sung by choristers from various denominations (and members of none) singing from the same songbook. On concert day, it seems that regardless of our varied doctrines, we hold shared values in common.

The feeling of oneness grows and by the time we get to “O Holy Night,”  we have risen above the disheartening nightly news and are primed to visualize peace on earth where it is easy to imagine the lion lying down with the lamb. “Rise above it, rise above it, leave your Earthly cares behind…

Light... more light.

Light… more light.

Some years ago when we lived in London, I undertook the Quaker Quest, a six-week introduction to the Quaker way. I found sitting in silence difficult. The first week we had to sit in silence for ten minutes, and each week thereafter, another ten minutes were added until… by the sixth week, we were up to an hour of uninterrupted silence. As the weeks when by, sitting in silence became somewhat easier, but, for me, the silence was very definitely “work.”

After I completed the course, I attended a number of meetings at our local Quaker meeting-house. I was undecided about my level of commitment, but when Christmas arrived, the  lack of music, the failure to make a joyful noise spelled the end. From that point on, I did not return to the assembly.

December 17th The Writer’s Almanac shared “Winter Grace” a poem by Patricia Fargnoli. She writes of walking through the snow on a winter’s evening… she writes of “flakes settling on your parka / like the dust from just-born stars, / the cold waking you / as if from long sleeping, / then you can understand / how, more often than not, / truth is found in silence.”

Main Street, Westcliffe - a meeting and greeting place.

Main Street, Westcliffe – a meeting and greeting place.

I’m not so sure about finding truth in silence. I understand the Quaker quest for self-knowledge and inner peace and I understand Fargnoli’s total immersion in a cold silent night, but I am most alive in the company of others. I need the shared common experience that comes with stories and music. I need the reassurance that I am not alone. I am one of many.

Looking ahead to the Winter Solstice, I need to be thinking of the personal traits and memories that haunt and hold me back. Taking account, I will write them down, and when the bonfire blazes, I will throw the past into the fire and move forward into the new year.

What baggage will you throw on the bonfire?


About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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8 Responses to Celebrating the Winter Solstice

  1. Pari says:

    What baggage will you throw on the bonfire?……………My ankle cast, then I’ll search my soul for more.

    • timeout2 says:

      Your ankle cast is a good choice Pari. My foot is finally healed and the healing took nearly a year – depressing in that my age may have played a part in the slow recovery. I’m looking ahead to hiking this summer. As for the bonfire, I need to make a list and perhaps throw in an actual item… chocolate covered coffee beans, for example.

  2. Brent says:

    Lovely. Yes, music, the holy traditions, fellowship and solitude all blend to quiet the noise and comfort the soul. Thank you.

  3. timeout2 says:

    I love your phrase “to quiet the noise.” I feel bombarded by bits and bites assaulting my senses. When it is too much, I tend to withdraw. That’s when I depend on my community of friends to hold my hand. Thank you, Brent

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Here comes the sun.
    Little darling,
    Here comes the sun,
    And I say.
    It’s alright!

  5. timeout2 says:

    I love this, Elizabeth! Did you write it or do you know the source? I know that you don’t do Christmas, but Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2015. xo

  6. marilynjh says:

    That’s a Beatles tune, Here Comes the Sun.

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