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  • Writer's picturekelly keena

a new winter solstice.

The winter solstice feels sacred to me always, but this year it was simply cathartic. Possibly because of the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, or maybe because the last visible word in the Yule log was “shine.” Mostly, I think it’s because this entire year has been stillness and darkness when normally those are only recognizable on just this one day.

My teaching partner and dear friend used to begin counting the additional seconds of light at sunrise and sunset beginning each day after the winter solstice. Each morning he greeted me with the time the sun came up. This felt tedious to me. To hone in on the additional seconds painstakingly day after day made winter feel longer. Years later, I finally understand the inclination. The compulsion. While the winter solstice used to feel like a time to pause, literally translated as earth-stands-still, this year it was the day after the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice that felt more significant. A return to the light. Basking in the gratitude of each second by second as we think about re-emerging into the world. The light never felt more important.

We plunged into stillness in March (but the medical professionals, alllllllll of them, who plunged into darkness and a flurry that has yet to cease). Stillness, by all accounts and religious/spiritual teachings, is necessary. It’s taught to us by the hibernation of animals and plants as the only way to survive in our western Colorado climate. Constant motion, albeit held as an ideal of human success, is unsustainable. Untenable. And so our world was forced into stillness by a microscopic virus riding on the breath of those who stayed in motion.

But, the paradox of stillness is the difficulty of stillness. When the quiet became too much for some, the darkness became darker in violence and confrontation. The darkness of systemic racism surfaced for many who have refused to see it. The darkness of humanity walked maskless demanding the liberty to put others on ventilators. This was possibly viewed as an emergence to them. Nature says otherwise. Emergence is not done at our peril, but for survival. There is no pushing back against the need for pupating by the demand for haste. It’s like gravity. It’s a natural principle that cannot be resisted for very long.

And so each second of light is precious. Second by second our world will be brighter. We emerge changed, in a new form. Reconfigured. It cannot happen all at once. It is a gradual process. Step by step. Poco a poco. And I am reminded that counting these tiny moments is actually basking in the beauty of that process knowing that the seconds add up and we’ll be back into the mystery of healthy emergence soon enough.

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