“Hope is a renewable option: if you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning.” Barbara Kingsolver
Tomorrow is the Solstice and the first official day of Winter. In this time of Covid, it’s being referred to as The Dark Winter. Of course, it’s always a dark winter here in the north country, especially in the mornings, and since we are up so early, three hours have gone by before I see light out in the sky. On my best mornings, I cruise through the headlines online, bookmark things I want to delve into later, write a little, do some meditation and yoga, and stretch my sore hip muscles in preparation for a nice walk once it’s light enough. On those mornings, hope can feel like a renewable option. Mind you–those are my best mornings.
The snow on the ground is now gone, and it’s likely to be raining when we do our annual sunset walk on the north shore of the lake tomorrow. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a sunset on the Winter Solstice, but my photos are a record that there was some beautiful light last year. It’s always cold, and when the wind lashes us with freezing air off the water, it has that wild feeling of being on the Oregon coast in winter, when you can barely see the surf through the fog and rain, and the thundering sound makes you feel like your heart will burst out of your chest. I always have a pot of soup or chili on the stove to return home to, and we close down the night with hot Irish whiskey in front of the Christmas tree. I leave a candle burning on the dining room table to light this longest of nights.
And then, we get to wake up to a new day, and although it’s invisible, the light is truly returning. We can absolutely count on it. The older I get– and in these heartbreaking times–there is something so comforting, so necessary, in acknowledging that we are mere specks, on this tiny blue dot called Earth, floating around in celestial skies. Out of that vastness, I often find hope and solace, and a bit more perseverance. On my best days.
A Morning Offering, by John O’Donohue
I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcomes the wonder of this day
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.