Day 28: Still Sun

by ashleighpenrod

Yesterday was many things. The winter solstice. The end of a long and sad week. The beginning of a cheery and spirited season.

Solstice. Sol—sun. Sistere—stand. The sun stands still.

During the winter solstice, the sun gives us our distance and stands still on the other side of the world. It barely rises, blinks and then sinks. Somewhere around December 21, the sun reaches its southern-most distance from the celestial equator and is closest to its southern-most Earthlings. In the north, we feel the darkness.

Then, slowly, the sun begins to ascend again and we prepare to start fresh and greet the light.

If we aren’t paying attention, I think we experience this shift as holiday cheer. In reality, we are incredibly connected to the movement of our universe. However tiny they are, our cells respond to light and dark, ebb and flow. We carry the history of creation in our bodies. As Carl Sagan once put it, “We are made of starstuff.”

The danger of attributing our feelings of mirth and togetherness solely to the holidays is that they tend to disappear once the new year has begun. As the January commercials for fitness centers describe it, we experience a little post-holiday letdown. But—what if we keep noticing the light instead of focusing on the holiday bustle? What if we take a deep breath every morning and thank the sun for coming back? What if we smile every evening and greet the darkness like a quiet, warm friend?

If we get too wound up in stuff and events and obligations, we miss the experience of being alive amidst a living universe. The solstice is the perfect opportunity to reconnect.

Sometimes, a little distance from the light can be very illuminating. (Hey-oh!)

BenchThis photograph of the Oregon coast was taken by my lovely mother right around the 2010 winter solstice.