There is so much I could say about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and yet so few words can make sense of it. Actually no words can make sense of it. I intended to write about our Solstice traditions this week and then I waffled and thought perhaps I shouldn’t. I mean, I know life goes on, but the reality of that can feel so cruel. Anyone who has known personal loss can attest that life moving forward is one of the most painful aspects of loss—the brutality and heartlessness of that onward movement is nearly unbearable. As I considered writing this week, everything felt selfish as my three children lie safe in their beds. As I sit here attempting to write now, it all feels selfish because before I go to my own bed tonight, I will turn on the hall light as I do every night, and touch their faces and hair gently and feel their breath on my hand. I will take one last look for this day at their sweet faces before I succumb to sleep myself.
But then I thought perhaps it would be good to write about the Solstice, which is a celebration of the rebirth of light. Of hope and warmth. Maybe that is something in which we all need to bask right now.
"Little darling I feel that ice is slowly melting Little darling It seems like years since it's been clear Here comes the sun Here comes the sun, and I say It's all right" —The Beatles
I feel so grateful that my kids are little enough to be oblivious to this tragedy. I want to protect them from the knowledge that this kind of violence is possible in this world into which I’ve brought them. (I know this kind of protection will not be possible forever.) While my children live in blissful ignorance, I know that the children who hid in closets and bathrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary will never be innocent in this way ever again. My hope for them is peace and the knowledge that there is good in this world.
For us, the Solstice is a quiet moment in the midst of the whirlwind that is the Holiday season. A time for my nuclear little bunch to huddle up close and breathe in the quiet and the light. I made a Solstice countdown board for them—animals and plants that populate our part of the world in winter, the sun, the moon, snow clouds. They add one element to the board each day from December 1st until the day of the Solstice, on which the sun is pinned in the sky. My hope is to nurture a connection with the natural world. A oneness with the Earth and all its inhabitants. To help them to witness divinity (whatever form that takes for them) in the turning of the seasons, in the light of the sun, in the delicate strands of the white pine, in the smallest of seashells and most majestic of mountains. Our Solstice board is reminder of the world we share with all living things, the way the Earth moves forward through its cycles, and our place within it.
On this Solstice as we dim the lamps and light a single candle, as we eat our supper of sun pie and wish bread, as we listen to “Here Comes the Sun” and place the felt sun I sewed in its place on our Solstice board, I will hope our one light shines out into the darkness. I will let go of any idea of selfishness and instead meditate on humble gratitude.
Yes, life goes on. The sun will rise again, the days will slowly grow longer. We have no power to thwart it. But what we can bring to this unstoppable, inescapable forward motion is a cultivation of light and goodness. And share the flame when the light of hope dims for another.
"If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your path." Buddha
Happy Solstice. May you know light in your life and peace in your heart.