Where I live, solstice day was bleak and cold. It rained hard all day and by 2PM I had already lit a few candles and turned on the sparkly white Christmas lights. I stayed mostly in the kitchen where I had put a pot of beans on to cook even though I had no immediate plans for them. The decision was spontaneous, so the beans hadn't been soaked and required a good long time on the stove. I added a little onion, a few whole garlic gloves, a bay leaf, some peppercorns, and a few pinches of salt to the pot and set it on the back burner where it quietly bubbled away for the rest of the afternoon. What old, half-buried instinct was I obeying when I did this? The only thing I know is that my need to have something (anything) simmering on the stove was as great as the need for the actual beans themselves.
Solstice is a favorite time of the year, not so much for the turning back towards the light but for the gifts brought from the quiet and stillness. In a few days Christmas will be a rush of brightness and delicious food and rooms full of laughing people. Soon it will be time for hearty carols and crinkling wrapping paper and boozy, slightly bloated afternoons spent snuggled inside, hopefully by a fire and with a good book. Soon enough.
But on solstice day I stay at home by myself for the afternoon, close to the stove where it's warm. The kitchen is mostly silent, with just the occasional burble and rattle from the pot of beans. The silence speaks, in its own fashion, of something far deeper and more true than any sounds or words. To me this is a rare and precious time for reflection, contemplation and to untangle, however briefly, the complicatedness of my life.
I hope you find a moment or two of quiet in the days to come, a pause in the mayhem to discover and touch deeply whatever it is that sustains and brightens your life. Now, more than ever, we need to bring the wisdom born of this discovery out and into the coming light, out into our broken world.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came."
― Wendell Berry, Given
Wishing you great joy and lots of time spent in the company of love!
In Which I Pretty Much Say the Same Thing Every December:
• Weekend Meditation: The Sparkle and the Stillness
• Weekend Meditation: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
• Weekend Meditations: Merry and Bright
• Weekend Meditation: Resting in the Dark
(Image: Dana Velden)