Tonight is the longest night of the year.
Tomorrow, the days will begin to get longer, which is a small glimmer of hope when you are feeding the animals in the dark and cold. Particularly when the dark is 16.5 hours of our “day” right now – I leave for work long before sunrise, and come home just after sunset.
Being in the country has made us both much more aware of natural cycles. I mean, yes, it’s almost Christmas, but it’s also Solstice, and Solstice has its own special meaning. It’s a long ways off, but spring is coming. We have gardens to plan and baby goats to look forward to. Winter won’t last forever. I know it’s just officially the first day of winter now, but up here we got our first frost in September, and we’ve had cold and snow for ages already. Winter on the Canadian prairies seems to start sometime around Halloween, and runs until somewhere around Easter, really.
We have Christian rituals to mark some of the seasons – Easter, and Christmas, but this autumn I found myself wishing for a harvest festival – a way to celebrate the bounty of our garden, and maybe a chance to share a sigh of relief with the neighbors when we got the harvest in before the frost. While the lights and trees feel somehow appropriate, I would love to greet the sun tomorrow morning, and welcome him back. Of course, I don’t get a day off work for that, so I would have to settle for a glance out the office window around 9:15, or a quick walk at coffee break.
Instead, I have taken part of the morning off work. Not so much to be able to greet the sun, though I will do that if I get the chance, but more because Hubby and I are starting a new tradition. Tomorrow morning, on the very first day of a new solar year, I am going to take our extra garden bounty down to the food bank, to share with people in need. It feels appropriate, somehow, like a way to bless next year’s garden. We spoke about it, and decided this was the sort of tithe we could really feel good about, a direct way to share our fortune, rather than giving money to a charity that may or may not distribute it in a way we approve of. We have the space, and the ability, to plant an extra row or three, to share like that. We are fortunate. We have enjoyed sharing our bounty with friends and neighbors, but this is a way we can help the wider community, as well.
I like the idea of taking a moment in the midst of the pre-Christmas frenzy, to stop, and think for a moment, about what we really have. To think about what we have to give, or share. To be grateful, on the longest night of the year, and to really feel hope for a good new year coming. To start that new year with true good will and a spirit of honest giving – giving because we can, and because we want to.
So, in that spirit, Happy Solstice to you!