“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, “Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.”Kazran Sardick, Doctor Who “A Christmas Carol”, written by Steven Moffatt (2010)
You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 has been A Year. I think that all of us, around the world, are pretty exhausted right now, and I’m definitely looking forward to a break.
I noticed that the decorations in people’s windows went up early this year, beginning as soon as Hallowe’en ended. I suspect this is because people needed some joy, something to look forward to, as the current pandemic continues and the nights draw in.
I know that Christmas this year, for those who celebrate it, won’t be a normal one. I would urge people not to travel and not to meet with relatives, particularly elderly and vulnerable ones, this year so as to avoid spreading the virus, but I know that for every person who understands the reason for this, there will be another who will go ahead and do Christmas as usual anyway. Which saddens and scares me, for I fear a spike in January.
As a Pagan, this year I have missed out on several holy days and festivities. My Grove haven’t had an in-person ritual since Imbolc in February. We’ve done all the others online, which while preferable to not doing them at all, and a good way to keep community spirits up, is not the same as standing beneath the trees together. We’ve missed the (cancelled) OBOD gathering in Glastonbury and the installation of the new Chosen Chief of the Order.
I sympathise with Muslims who missed Eid, Jews missing Hannukah, and yes, Christians missing Christmas, as well as all who have missed out on days and times special to them.
This year, in particular, I need a rest.
I need the winter holidays to be a time of hygge, of hunkering down with food, books and blankets. A time to not have to keep “doing”. Because, despite what the media may have told you, universities and libraries never closed. In fact, we all worked twice as hard to achieve half as much as we shifted services, lectures, meetings, reading lists and resources online with zero time or budget. It’s been non-stop since March, without even a summer holiday to break up the continual slog.
The Winter Solstice for me is always a time of renewed hope. At the darkest moment, the light shines out, small and weak, but shining all the same. A sign that for the next six months, the days will lengthen, the nights withdraw, and life return.
Will we have a return to normal next year? Who knows. I doubt it, and there are many aspects of the old normal we should not return to, and should instead look to create a better society which cares for all.
Whatever happens, the Solstice stands as a still, small point, a fixed moment in the year that belongs not to any one faith or one culture, but to all humanity and all of nature.
A moment of hope.
A tiny light.
A promise that there will be a brighter future.
May the time of the Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan, Yule, bring you light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of despair, joy in the midst of grief and resolve to co-create the year to come.
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