I always, always take myself out for a walk on the evening of the Winter Solstice!
There is change in the air on the longest night of the year. A cycle has been completed. In days of old, people worshiped the sun. The pace of their year, their rituals and their festivals aligned with our orbit around the sun. Is it all so different in contemporary times? Sure, most of us don´t actually consider the sun to be a God or our ruler. That is not what I am suggesting. But, I am suggesting that how we measure time, both practically and metaphorically is aligned with our rotations around the sun.
At this time of year, we pause and consider the year that has passed. What we have experienced, what we have achieved, the highs, the lows. We pause and take stock of the world we live in and our place in it. Media outlets are all awash with recaps of, the year that was.
So, when I head out for my winter solstice walk, I give myself a moment of quiet reflection to think not only of myself, my loved ones, the city in which I live, and world events – but I also think of the rest of nature. There is a certain security and continuity in the fact that no matter how turbulent or chaotic a year has been (for better or worse) the earth will turn around the sun and the longest night of the year will emerge and allow for a time of quiet contemplation as much of the life around me settles down for a long winter´s nap. The act of intentionally doing this, and finding beauty in the darkness and decay, makes me very much feel just another part of natural world. And, truthfully, it makes me feel safe.
So, I encourage you, this solstice night, to wrap up tight, put your walking shoes on and head outside. Look up at the stars. Can you see them? Or are their clouds? Have the trees all lost their leaves? Are their alpines around you that are indeed evergreen? How does the world smell? How does the air feel on your skin? Can you perceive shades of colour in the darkness? What do you see? Have you paid attention to all of these life giving forces throughout this year? As one cycle ends and another begins, what is your intent for living a nature related life throughout the coming year?
As I always contest, it is from all of this life that our food comes and to truly experience the joy of eating, one must lean in more to the life way beyond the plate, without which, there would be no holiday feasting.