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Winter Solstice

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

The winter solstice on Dec. 21 marks the shortest day of the year and the waning of daylight. The onset of the winter season and more darkness here in Connecticut is an invitation to turn inward for a time before longer days and light return. My grandfather’s birthday was on Dec. 21.  I remember as a child, who had a June birthday on one of the longest days of the year, feeling sad because he was cheated from having a full day of celebration. He would chuckle whenever I reminded him of this and never seemed to mind.


As I’ve grown older, I crave the shorter days and I wonder if my grandpa did too. There are more opportunities for time to rest, reflect and go inward. I’m not particularly good at maintaining a high gear of daily activity for extended periods of time anymore and the winter season gives me permission to live more quietly and consciously. The trees and plants remind me of this by the way they maintain their bare external state during the cold weather. The work they do is mostly internal, staying rooted in the earth and tending to the flow of hidden energies that nourish them.


We have those hidden energies as well. Energies that flow from thoughts, dreams, ideas, and imagination. One of my favorite activities in the winter is to sit still by a window or find a place outdoors where I can observe and use my senses to see, hear, feel, touch and taste what’s around me. Today I watched a hawk fly into my backyard and perch on a tree branch. For the next half an hour, the two of us sat quietly in the sunshine. We were both beings in the natural world and I had a felt sense of connectedness with my surroundings. Life felt worthwhile in these mid-day moments.


Watching as the sun’s light brightened on the hawk’s moving wing, I felt the sun warming my arm as I mimicked the bird’s movement. As I felt and tasted the cold air moving through my nose and mouth, I wondered what the hawk noticed. Prey or just the cold air too? In the brief peak light of this day, I experienced communion with creation. That even on the darkest days of the year, there is light waiting to find us and guide us toward what we need.  

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