The snow and the dark

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My spirituality is a slowly evolving thing. I grew up in a culturally-Christian but not-a-church-member No Man’s Land, and after spending a little energy as a teenager investigating whether I really wanted religion (I didn’t), gave up spirituality altogether. Life in one’s twenties is hard enough without these questions.

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In the early days with my husband, maybe on our first date but certainly within the first month, he told me about a Green Man in the woods near his house. He showed me it, and it was a good one: visible from exactly one spot, at exactly one angle, created by the juxtaposition of about three trees. It was undeniably a face. There were a lot of oaks in that wood; he called us Druids.

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Now that we’re farther north (above the 47th parallel), the Solstices seem important. Summer days become so impossibly long, winter days so impossibly short. Loving the Wheel of the Year seems, to me, as natural and universal as it comes. I’ve put one on the wall in our kitchen–a nice one with eight hooks so you can turn it around as the seasons pass, with the solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days at the top as they come and go. We go to the Julefest in a nearby Scandinavian-heritage town, where men in Viking helmets and fake furs row a longboat to shore, recite the litany of time, and light a bonfire to celebrate the returning light. This year, too, we went on a Solstice walk in a nearby woodland: two hundred people carrying lanterns, walking single-file through the forest at night. It was. . .very dark. I’m glad I did it. I don’t know if I’ll do it again.

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And Christmas. I love it with all the standard American trimmings: a lighted tree, decorated with glittery ornaments and little forest animals. Cards to people far away. Extra-special baked goods. Special music. The Christian aspect is lost on me, but I do see that after the Winter Solstice we hold our breaths for three or four days, to observe that the light really is coming back, that that at least we can depend upon–and then we celebrate.

So that’s what it is to me. Happy post-Solstice, everyone. Here comes the sun.

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3 thoughts on “The snow and the dark

  1. Happy New Year to you and your family. Amazed at the winter solstice celebrations. So much quieter here, just a few like minded friends acknowledging the celebration, tolerated by a few of our christian friends. Sharon.

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