Coming Tomorrow to Skies Near You…

candle5Few of us pay much attention to the cycles of sunrise and sunset, other than to grumble about how dark it is when we get up to go to work and how little afternoon there is when winter sets in.

We don’t have to pay attention because we have electric lights and sources of heat that don’t need regular stoking, and it doesn’t matter that plants have stopped growing because we get our food from the grocery store.

But perhaps we miss something in our disconnection from what our life-giving sun is doing.

The northern hemisphere’s Winter Solstice will occur tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 21, at 9:11 a.m. Seattle time. At that moment, the moment when the sun is at its southernmost position in the sky, the days will stop getting shorter and begin getting longer again. Today is going to be 2 seconds longer than tomorrow, which will be the shortest day of the year, and the day after tomorrow will be 3 seconds longer than tomorrow, with more and more daylight to come as the days unfold.

Of course, this will happen whether or not you and I take any notice of it, but I’m thinking I’d like to.

So here’s my plan:

Tomorrow when it starts getting dark, I won’t turn on any lights and I’ll turn off the ones that operate on automatic timers—along with my computer, which is a veritable desktop beacon. My house won’t be completely dark because of the street light outside and all my electric clocks and the little lights on my smoke detectors, toothbrush and other electric devices.

But I’ll light a candle or two and enjoy the growing darkness. Perhaps I’ll do some qigong, perhaps I’ll knit, perhaps I’ll just pet my cats. I may even turn on my gas fireplace with its fake embers and logs, a source of no-muss, no-fuss fire that would have thrilled most of my ancestors.

At 7 p.m. I’ll go to a Solstice celebration at my church. Here’s what’s written about it on the church’s website:

“Come walk the candlelit labyrinth and help ring in the return of the light. To walk the labyrinth is to walk an inner journey of contemplation and reflection.

“The walk has three phases: The walk in, outer circle to inner circle; the center or deepest place of the heart and light; and the journey of return, inner to outer circle.

“Come enter the darkness and walk toward the inbreaking of light.”

It sounds lovely.

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