I wrote up the December 21st (Winter Solstice) piece for Facebook and wound up revising it and tightening it a bit — and realized, prodded by some fond FB friends, that I’d neglected to include in my little meditation the amplifying incident on Monday night of the night time conjunction (at least to the human eye) of Saturn and Jupiter. How marvelous! And how sad that I only thought of it near midnight and, sadder still, did not go out to search for it. Many said they could not see it, but some did, even at dusk when it truly appeared how we imagine the Star of Bethlehem to appear. Yes, I never should have left out reference to this starry event.
But here’s how I wrote of the Solstice in Facebook:
I’m one of those blithering fools who waxes all gooey over the solstice – the sun on its northerly or southerly trek. In June it’s that day when daylight lingers on rooftops and lake surfaces, seemingly never to die away. We hope for such a day without end. Today, December 21st, is about darkness, the shortest day of the year. And this, I submit, is another time of hope. Somewhere, sometime, some ardent English teacher might have graced our ears with some saint’s or famous poet’s thoughts on light and darkness, even as we dozed, dreaming of the closing school bell. Perhaps, if we were lucky, it was Robert Frost’s, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” I love that poem – a dead poet’s undying meditation set, we are told, on “the darkness evening of the year.” That would be this evening, therefore, if we are going strictly by science. The solstice. Or perhaps it was just the darkest evening in the poet’s troubled soul. We all have those dark nights. The woods, he tells us, are “lovely, dark and deep.” Robert Frost knew about deep darkness. He was, in the words of another of his poems, “acquainted with the night.” That is bad darkness, where dark thoughts and deep, dark memories fester, where dark deeds hide in dark spaces. But this winter darkness watching a neighbor’s woods fill up with snow “between the woods and frozen lake” seems a good darkness, like the darkness before the movie show or the big concert or when we turn the lights out for the singing of Happy Birthday over the cake and candles or the darkness that enhances the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel – or the glow of the Hanukkah candles. The earlier that darkness comes tonight, the sooner we see those multitudes of Christmas lights brightening every country lane and city square. We are a few days from what is, for many of us, a very Big Birthday and the singing of Silent Night, Holy Night. It’s been a rough, noisy, unholy year. Plenty of death, sickness, broken or delayed hopes, dreams and bank accounts – bad darkness. Let’s enjoy, while the solstice lingers, the peaceful darkness of the deep woods, church, synagogue, mosque or home sanctuary. For, the poet had to move on reluctantly from those dark, peaceful woods, as we must ultimately, from that dark, peaceful place within us, realizing, perhaps also very reluctantly, that we have, as the poet reminds us, promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep. Yes, miles to go before we sleep….