In anticipation of another Solstice; a reflection
Our neighbors, through the woods, host a Solstice gathering every December at their home. It is always well-attended and for good reason. It is very well planned and with a good spirit. They have been hosting this evening for over a dozen years. Everyone finds a pillow or chair in the living room around a centerpiece that symbolizes the theme or themes of the gathering. One time the theme was seeds or the seed, everything seeds represent, suggest and symbolize – bounty, mystery, hope, promise of new life, new possibility. There was a beautiful mandala made of seeds in all their variety, shapes and sizes from red and blue beans to red corn kernels, sesames, acorns, black sunflowers, layered and juxtaposed in intricate concentric and radial patterns covering every inch of a cloth that was beautiful in itself. The next day all the seeds were scattered in the woods for the animals. Michael and Leslie, elders now, always start the evening by talking about the meaning of Solstice, the shortest and therefore the darkest day of the year. Their voices are quiet, almost conversational. I have to really focus to hear them. Sometimes there is a story. Before the candles are extinguished for fifteen minutes we are given a prompt, a simple instruction that amounts to: Come out of the darkness with something. The prompt is different year-to-year depending on what kind of year it has been. We are living in extraordinary times. Every year the theme is different, the ritual is the same. Then the candles are snuffed. Thirty people, one intention, sharing a bubble out of time and ordinary space. After the submersion in darkness everyone lights a candle and expresses something from the heart, whatever they want to say . . . or not: some choose to remain silent. When everyone has had a chance to speak and all the candles have been lit, one person at a time, the room is still cloaked in darkness, but the candles, some thirty or forty of them, bathe that darkness in a powerful but gentle glow that softly illuminates every face. After that, people go outside and everyone lights a torch, and the torches are used to ignite a bonfire in a clearing. And then there is a potluck.
I hold this to be the highest task of the bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other. — Rilke
You, darkness, that I come from
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything-
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! –
powers and people-
and it is possible a great presence is moving near me.
I have faith in nights. — Rilke
I live not in dreams but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future.
That is the principle thing – not to remain with the dream, with the intention, with the being-in-the-mood, but always forcibly to convert it all into things. — Rilke