Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sliding toward Solstice

Cookies and ginger bread houses are being baked. The lights are on the tree. As much as I enjoy our fully decorated old fashioned tree, there's something about the simplicity of lights only that I find appealing. It may have to do with the number of times I read Peter Pan when I was younger, or how much I miss seeing fireflies on Summer evenings.

Christmas tree, lights and angel only
Christmas tree, lights and angel only
Photo by J. Harrington

While researching some details about next month's Winter solstice, I stumbled onto what look like some useful ways to celebrate it. I'm definitely going to try number 1 and probably 2. Maybe more, depending on how ambitious I get. It's not that there haven't been lots of good things happening this past year, more like my dreams keep exceeding my accomplishments. In case you're curious, here's what Robert Browning has written about that (a man's reach...).

Taylors Falls public library entrance
Taylors Falls public library entrance
Photo by J. Harrington

As we were leaving the Taylors Falls Lighting Festival Friday evening, the band was playing John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Happy Christmas, (War Is Over). Each year I hear that song somewhere and each year the lyrics about "and what have you done" make me wish I had done more the prior year. It's another version of Mary Oliver's question that ends her poem The Summer Day:
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
This seems to be the time of year I usually try to find a better answer to that question. As I get older I've noticed that, although my answers improve, they don't do so as quickly as my awareness grows of just how precious all life on this earth is. Robert Louis Stevenson has this advice that helps judge accomplishments:
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds that you plant."
I noticed it in the gift shop while we were tree shopping and I'm going to practice it for the balance of this year and try for a full application next.

Winter Solstice

By Hilda Morley 

A cold night crosses
our path
                  The world appears
very large, very
round now       extending
far as the moon does
                                        It is from
the moon this cold travels
                                        It is
the light of the moon that causes
this night reflecting distance in its own
light so coldly
                                          (from one side of
the earth to the other)
                                        It is the length of this coldness
It is the long distance
between two points which are
not in a line        now
                                       not a
straightness       (however
straight) but a curve only,
silver that is a rock reflecting
                                                      not metal
but a rock accepting
                     (a scream in silence
where between the two
points what touches
is a curve around the world
                                                      (the dance unmoving).
new york, 1969

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