It is especially important to take this sentiment to heart during the holiday season to underscore our wish for “Peace on earth, good will towards men.”
As a universal family we also share the experience of our natural world. December is the month when the winter solstice is marked by many diverse celebrations that observe this natural phenomenon. On December 21 the earth is furthest from the sun, making it the day with the least amount of sunlight. (Solstice literally means, “standing-still-sun.”)
Long before Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, the ancient Mesopotamians celebrated a 12-day festival of renewal at this time of year. The ancient human family viewed the darkness of winter with trepidation. When the sunlight started to diminish, they feared it would never return unless humans intervened with vigil and homage. They lit fires for warmth and light, and faced the winter with both uncertainty and hope.
Thankfully, most of us are no longer concerned with a lack of food and shelter during the freezing winter months. We turn on the central heat, put on a fleece-lined parka and wait for the weather report. Yet underneath our civilized response to the season, we may sense our vulnerable human roots. We may look at the endless night sky exploding with flickering stars, and pause if only for a brief moment, to stand in awe at the wonder of it all.
The holiday season is a time for merriment, but it is also a season that mysteriously brings together death and birth—death of the old season, the old year, the dried blooms of last summer’s garden; and triumphantly, on December 21, the Winter Solstice, in the darkness of the soil where the hidden seed sleeps, the first, silent stirrings of the creative spirit signal the birth of the new light and revival of the spirit of community that binds us together as a global family.
As we enter this season of darkness and introspection, let’s connect to each other by honoring our differences and valuing our shared connection to the earth. Let us explore and celebrate our own inner life. What appears to be darkness leads us to the light.