"Let us love Winter, for it is the Spring of Genius."
Today at 3:59pm in the UK (10:59am USA) we welcome the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter, and the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere.
Right now, in the Northern Hemisphere, dark triumphs over light, but this afternoon also brings a turning point. If we were living according to a rhythm that our souls, spirits and bodies craved, in this part of the world we would be tucked into a quiet time, not busy; a thoughtful time, not over-stimulated; a calm time, not rushed; a time of trusting, not impatience.
I relish the turn of the seasons, and especially this time of year when we move into a more dormant time in nature. I love that beneath what we can see, nature is preparing new life for us. The manifestation of busy Christmas holidays over the generations temps us away from the reflection and rest we need to be embracing in order to honour and welcome the grace of brighter days ahead.
But being still and avoiding ‘darkness’ seems to be a modern weakness we’ve inherited – we’ve largely forgotten how to feel negative emotions because we’ve grown to know them as inconvenient, uncomfortable, and we make ourselves feel inadequate and depressed for feeling them.
But when we're afraid of our own dark times, we cut ourselves off from a very powerful personal growth and personal power. We need dark, quiet and reflective times in life in order to guarantee that the 'Seeds of Grace' that we've sown through the longer days behind us will actually be nurtured into something wonderful. We aren’t meant to overwhelm our lives either, but understanding with gratitude these times of feeling stuck will always be one of the best catalysts for how we are able to go forward and become an even better version of who we are meant to be as we evolve. Nature does not 'produce' 365 days a year - it needs the dark and quiet times to renew. And so do we.
The phrase ‘Winter Solstice’ is born from Latin; ‘sol’ meaning ‘the sun’ and ‘sistere’ meaning ‘to make stand.’ Right now the sun is travelling the shortest path through the sky, a new solar journey, sharing the least amount of sunlight with earth. The axis of Earth is also pausing and shifting its direction. The sun being still is a wonderful metaphor for how we can reflect on changing the direction of our lives as we enter a new calendar year. What tweaks can we make to ensure the days ahead are fruitful and rewarding?
So, in these hectic few days coming up, allow yourself to notice the peace of the darkness, appreciating the inspiration of the changing of the seasons, and being hopeful for the brighter and more productive days ahead. Let grief or sadness wash over you like a protective embrace, let uncertainty bring you important questions for the brighter days ahead, let fear challenge your heart to become stronger, and let your soul remember how much you have been loved and how much you are loved. Be thankful for the long nights right now, because they are preparing the energy for bright and colourful times for you ahead!
It is my hope for every person reading this that you will find little moments of time in the days ahead to nurture yourself with compassion, to let the energies of soon-to-be new life work their ‘behind the scenes’ magic, and to allow whatever inspiration is eager to slowly build within you and whisper to you to get your attention.
My wish for you is that, however you define great joy and magnificent hope, it will be your hearty and abundant harvest in 2022!
This is the face of a remarkable, deeply hearted, thoroughly generous woman. This is the face of our mum, Peggy, the kindest and most welcoming person I have ever had the great privilege to know. Peggy was my mother-in-law, and I won one of life’s best prizes when I married into her family 21 years ago.
Yesterday, I officiated her funeral. After 5 years in this vocation as a Celebrant, after witnessing hundreds of grieving families who were left broken by a loved one’s death, I found myself uniquely in the most arduous position of writing about Peggy, and sharing a glimpse of her fabulous life story to our little corner of the world. Leading her funeral was beyond one of the greatest honours of my life.
Peggy’s life was a beautiful illustration, a sort of tapestry, made from hundreds of thousands of tiny little threads and pieces, woven together, each one representing a time when she touched someone’s life. And that’s something many of us don’t realise; we have no way of understanding just how many lives we touch as we walk through our ordinary, everyday lifetime.
In recent years, arthritis took much of the life out of Peggy’s hands, but to me, her hands were beautiful because they told the story of who she was. Her hands were the part of her body that she used the most - for sewing, needlework, gardening, knitting, cooking, writing, planting, baking … and especially for holding, hugging. Her hands and her heart were profoundly connected and she embroidered the essence of who she was into everything her hands touched, especially everyone she loved dearly.
The sting of mum’s death lingers in our minds, our memories and certainly in our hearts – and tucked away in our hearts is where she lives now. I feel a poignant good fortune for us because I know this means she’ll never really leave us. But even having reached the age of 86, we feel cheated by her departure, though she’s now impossible to forget because memories of her are already beginning to mend the spaces where we were broken by the news that she had moved beyond the adventure of this life.
As a grieving family, we had the bittersweet honour of having loved Peggy completely, and her departure from this life has now left us with some pieces that we need to put back together, in a different way. Even so, we all feel such immeasurable gratitude for having walked with her by our side through so many life experiences. That’s both the beauty and the risk of loving someone so thoroughly; it doesn’t come without the certainty of grief, but it most definitely comes with the gift of our memories already beginning to mend the spaces where we shattered at the news of her death. And faintly, on the horizon, we begin to feel the early days of healing.
It’s Peggy’s ‘heart’ that we’ll remember, and how her eyes, her smile and her hands were painted with the extraordinarily beautiful light that permanently emanated from her soul.
RIP Mum. Fly now in that place where your spirit is as wide as the world is tall.