Morning light revealed a light snowfall that has covered the ground, not more than an inch or two, but as I look out my window to the east, it is a winter wonderland. Just in time for a white Christmas but this snow will not last three days without being refreshed. Our sun melts it except above the snow line around 8000 feet. And for that I am indeed grateful for the skiing has already begun.
For many years I have used the illustration of fresh snow, where there are no tracks, as the day that lies ahead. Neither I nor anyone else has walked in it yet and there it is, untouched except perhaps by one of the animals or birds who are often ahead of their human counterparts. The question that looms is what kind of tracks will I make? What will I give to this day that lies ahead? It has already blessed me with a new beginning and each encounter I have today will be like the snow, fresh with possibilities to make new tracks.
Each of us will go through our day today and how will it be different from any other day or will it be pretty much the same? Or, because it is Sunday, as opposed to some other day of the week, and the first day of this coming week, will that affect me in some way that will influence my conscious intentions? Several activities, commitments and plans are already laid and I know where I am going and how I will get there, at least for those few that I can see ahead. I best get started!
We will go through this day, making new tracks in the snow, here and there, straight lines from A to B, wandering routes, meandering in thoughts and conversations, going wherever it seems to evolve through the synergy of the moment. We will continue the process here of sorting and packing, getting ready for the movers who arrive January 3. We will walk through the snow to our friends and neighbors for an early evening Christmas dinner and finally, we will get ready for a holiday trip tomorrow to a city and family some 583 miles away.
At the end of the day today, I shall look back and see what kinds of tracks I have made, review where I have gone, what I have done, who I met along the way, what was said, and perhaps anticipate what may lie ahead. Then, with gratitude for the gift of yet another day, I will put it away, let it go and perhaps after a little reading, sink into a deep sleep of a winter's night. As of right now, more snow is falling and had I made any tracks, that new, fresh snow would cover them and make ready for more tracks. Just like another day being made ready for tomorrow.
Friday, 20 December 2013
On Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM MST (for me) the sun reached its southernmost point before starting back on its northward trek toward Spring. You can calculate your own time accordingly. Actually it has more to do with the tilt of the earth on its axis and its elliptical orbit but we will leave that to the astronomers. I am just one of those who watches the sun regularly rise and set, notice where it is on the horizon, and give thanks, for I am blessed to be able to see the horizon most of the time.
The winter solstice really only lasts a moment in time, and some of the other terms for the day on which this occurs, are "midwinter", "the longest night" or "the shortest day". It really is not the shortest day or longest night. It just refers to the amount of light within a 24-hour period. And, it should not be confused with "the first day of winter" especially here in northern New Mexico where we have had lots of snow and cold since before Thanksgiving. The sun was brilliant on the ski slopes last week.
What winter solstice signals for me is the return of the light as now the days start getting longer or rather there is a bit more daylight each day, just as it has been decreasing slowly each day since last summer’s solstice. This celebration of light is recognized and honored by many religious groups. From the Roman Saturnalia to the Indian Pancha Ganapati to Hanukkah and Christmas, to the Persian Yalda and the birth of Mithra, and the recent creation of Kwanzaa in 1966, all kinds of cultures have found ways to pay special attention to our source of life and follow the sun.
You may well celebrate this season with your family and friends, give gifts and light fires; you might take a walk in the woods or ski down a mountain or through a forest; you might read or pray or sing; many of us will eat and drink around a community table. Whatever you do, take some time to do something special that is worth remembering. Stop whatever you’re doing for just a moment in time, for that is what solstice is, a moment in time. Mark it in your journal or on your calendar with your own special thought and experience and share it with your family and friends. At the least, be open to receive the blessings and gifts of the season and celebrate joyfully and gratefully.