“those of us who hold no religious or supernatural beliefs still require regular, ritualised encounters with concepts such as friendship, community, gratitude and transcendence”
Alain de Botton, Religion for Atheists
The great Sun sits still a moment and then turns. The long night giving ease to incrementally longer days. This ceasing to move, this sitting still…It is the meaning of Solstitium (from the Latin sol + sistere).
For all of Earth’s creatures, botanical or animal, nothing can be more fundamental than changes in the length of daylight. It is no wonder that around the world, in many human cultures, Winter Solstice is greeted ceremoniously in communal hushed terms of storytelling, poetry, bonfires, candles to ward off the deep night. And then festive relief, dancing and song at the discovery that light has once again decided to give chase to darkness.
Light is life.
The fire in the hearth becomes our surrogate Sun, our symbolic centre. Dried wood, twigs, branches and slagged off bark become ash. Rekindle the fire, feed the flames, bathe in this safety.
It is worthwhile to take a moment passing through the December solstice night, noting the positive return of new growth that the sun’s promise of warmth and light bring.
It is worthwhile to remember the cyclical nature of things and that we are part of an order always changing, always renewing.Take solace too in the pause.
So why not sit a moment, ceasing to move, like the sun at solstice, before taking up your pace again.