In the Northwest, the winter solstice brings rain, though I’m heartened to hear that the rain is falling as snow in the mountains, that already we’ve exceeded last year’s total snow pack. The last few days have been full of gatherings with friends as we instinctively turn to our communities to help sustain us through these days of waning light.
Last Friday night, we gathered with friends in Seattle, a gathering that has taken place now for 34 years. We missed it last year, so were especially glad to pass the solstice candle around the circle and reflect on the significance of the return of the light. For me, gratitude was uppermost in my mind, having just received good news on a medical test. After leaving the hospital, we’d stopped at Elliot Bay Books to celebrate and I bought Oliver Sack’s latest collection of essays, Gratitude, which he’d written in the months leading up to his death.
I opened to this passage, which I shared at the gathering: “… My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have given much and I have been given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written…Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
Later that night, we were just a block from home when we saw the owl standing on the side of the road. We slowed down to get a closer look. The owl didn’t fly; in fact, its round eyes peered right back at us from within concentric circles of soft down. Finally, it lifted its great wings and flew off into the darkness. I felt blessed by this glimpse of wildness so close to home, blessed by this reminder of the wild world I love. That glimpse of the owl reminds me of two other books I want to share with you:
Tony Angell’s The House of Owls is a beautiful depiction of an artist/naturalist’s fascination with owls as he observed over a period of twenty-five years a family of screech owls near his home in Seattle.
Lorraine Anderson’s new collection Earth & Eros brings together many favorite poems and prose about the earth with beautiful, haunting photographs by Bruce Hodge to celebrate the erotic nature of our relationship with the earth.
Lorraine just sent a blog describing December’s invitation to rest so beautifully that I’d like to pass along the link to it: http://earth-and-eros.blogspot.com
This solstice, reflect on December’s invitation to rest deeply, and commit to doing so, even in the midst of the holidays. Take this opportunity to reflect on the balance you need in your life, whether by reading what others have written or exploring your own thoughts in writing as, together, we tilt back toward the light,
Yours in gratitude as we welcome the return of the light,