Today is the Winter Solstice, marking the shortest day of the year and the start of a new season. From this point on, daylight hours increase slowly towards Spring. I have captured a few lovely shots of the Winter sunlight (where there has been some!!). Weak, hesitant, fragile and delicate light... yet beautiful in all its frailty and presence. A light that calls for rest, reflection and renewal.
I am very aware of a part of me seeking hibernation, wanting to stay at home and curl up with a book or a magazine, needing more sleep... I feel pulled towards becoming quiet and introspective during the darker Winter months. Yet, there is also another part of me caught up with all the festive frenzy of this time of year. My inbox is full of "Last chance for Christmas delivery!", "Don't miss the sleigh!", "Last minute panic gifts!" type messages which can leave me feeling harassed, hurried and overwhelmed!
The antidote for all this commercial, man-made madness is, for me, the sanctuary of our old farmhouse, dressed for the Winter Solstice with simple, natural decorations of holly, ivy and oranges. It was a pleasure to gather the greenery from around the house and arrange it in pleasing ways to mark the Winter Solstice. I was so lovely to make pomanders with oranges and cloves which are hanging around the fireplaces, their beautiful scent generous and long-lasting. There are candles around to symbolise the return of the light at Solstice. We have enjoyed meals with our neighbours and are now looking forward to family time during the festive season, our first in Wales.
The pressures from "out there" at this time of year can be tremendous and since our natural inclination at Winter time is for rest and contemplation, we can end up feeling completely depleted. Yet, Winter can be a deeply nourishing time when we can make meaningful connections with the natural world, with family and the things that matter to us.
May the light at the Winter Solstice time be a gentle invitation for us to tune into the beauty and magic of Winter, when now dormant seeds conserve all their energy and strength needed for the growing season to come. Let us mindfully feed our spirit and consciously nurture our soul this Christmastime. Let us welcome the withdrawal for it is necessary for renewal. Let us remember the enriching qualities of Winter's darkness and, with the promise of the light returning, let us honour the season of Winter as a space for creative gestation, from darkness to light.