Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished
– Lao Tzu
So the shortest day came and the year died and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world, came people singing, dancing to drive the dark away!
– Susan Cooper
The fullness of Joy is to behold God in everything
–Julian of Norwich
Today is December 21, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Ages ago, noticing the days being incrementally drained of light, the first humans were filled with foreboding. Sensing a Great Ending, they were moved to enact nightly ritual, praying, singing, dancing for the Sun’s return.
This year’s Solstice,December 21, 2012 carries its own important story. After 26,000 years, there is a shift happening in the heavens, a new alignment within our solar system. Despite different tools of interpretation and speaking different languages, humans across cultures have pointed to this day, naming it: the Great Awakening, the Ascension, the Mayan End Times, the Hopi Fifth World, Christogenesis, Timewave Zero, the Age of Aquarius, and others.
Hmmmm….so what does it all mean?
I’m quite sure that I don’t know. I do know that I love this time of year. The holy season of Solstice calls us to 2 practices I know would serve us well, as we shift into this new era: slowing down and joining together.
Here we are, at the end of December, the time when many of us take time-off. We spend time with loved ones, we exchange cards & photos, reconnecting with friends long time, not seen. We light candles, sing and play music; in short, we call the Sun back…or celebrate the Son’s arrival.
Many of us “take stock” and review the years’ events. I love to consider the happenings of my past 12 months, to read them like some master blueprint and distill a theme or core teaching from the year. If you read this blog, you’re familiar with the list of activities decorating my calendar, informing my life: there was the bike blessing, my 40th birthday, becoming a beekeeper, training for the Death Ride, championing Fair Trade awareness in Berkeley, backpacking in Glacier National Park, officiating at weddings, baby blessings and rituals of every sort, and so on.
Happily enough, the slowing down initiated by darkness and the cold, reminds us that it isn’t about the events themselves (radical-craziness, I know). Furthermore, the words of Lao Tzu (above), suggest that what needs to happen will not happen more effectively by hurrying. Hurrying has become a seducer of sorts, a disguise for “getting things done.” The Solstice offers no rewards for this behavior. Instead, it invites us to light a candle, to look more closely for what we seek, to rest, evaluate and begin again.
This is the really important part. The opposite of hurrying isn’t passive, apathetic or dispassionate. On the contrary, when the darkness threatens to overtake us, we must devote ourselves – with even more insistence – for that which will bring back the light. And in the darkness, our efforts are made simpler and are augmented by the solidarity, support and insight offered by others. It’s more powerful (and so much friendlier) when we join together – shoveling the walk, preparing a meal, singing in harmony, exploring the details of a new dream or project. In this way, Julian of Norwich (above) helps us to see that each moment (tough, terrifying, or terrific) of our preciously short lives are Joy and God, combined.
Riding home this morning, after a pre-dawn Spin class, the pink sky in the East dazzled with the Sun’s promise of light. Rounding the corner and facing the rainy grey in the North, I was met by…a Rainbow!!! December 21, 2012 and I can’t make this up!! Descending from the heavy clouds was a sacred covenant between the Earth and the Heavens. I slowed down, rode home the long way. No sense hurrying. And now, through the wonders and limitations of cyber-space, I’m joining with you, and I’m inviting you to join with me, as the Great Shift happens.
The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and their destination.
(And, to enhance your experience, please enjoy the theme music – links below).