Midwinter’s Night

The eve of the Yule holidays, the winter solstice, and a full moon tonight to boot (the Oak moon, if you gather that type of information). This evening I am thinking about the presence and absence of light in the world. Perhaps that’s an appropriate train of thought for this time of year, when the first day of winter implies the rebirth of the sun in the darkest and shortest days. The seeds of summer are germinated here in the shadow half of the year, and the Holly King holds sway. The great Earth Mother births the sun-child and the world rejoices. It is a time of new beginnings, a time of great thankfulness and a time for understanding the cycle of life and death, of birth and rebirth. For so many, the import of this time has been over-arched by commercialism, by stolen and usurped religious traditions, by plastic smiles and forced gift giving. I try not to wax cynical at this time of year. But it is difficult at times. As Camus once wrote, no matter what we think, the sun still warms our bones. And so I like to dwell on the promise that is winter – that the cold, dark and windy storm-filled times are necessary, that the batteries of the world are recharged so that in the spring, there is water for new growth, and the fallow land has been rested and is ready for germination.

As the earth cools, its prime axis slanted
away from the sun for its winter turn,
as the hearth fires are stoked and brightly burn,
the seeds of the coming year are planted.

This dark season teaches us of balance;
it is the time for the silver moon,
the hour of midnight that negates the noon
and in reflected glow gives us challenge:

to build in darkness new sources for light,
that feed not on angry, bitter fuel
but burn away our misery and doubt.

In this time of joy, we celebrate the night
that holds the day like a rare, precious jewel
and will, each new year at spring, let it out.

19 DEC 2002

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