A portion of this essay is featured in Heather Farrell's newest book, Walking With the Women in the Old Testament.
For five years, three friends and I have met at the turn of each season in celebration. We didn't anticipate this becoming a tradition when we first met in summer (some of us meeting for the first time), under candlelit jars dangling from my top deck. But, the night was filled with a sacred hush and what was for some of us a first meeting, felt much more like a reunion. We made plans to meet in the fall, and then we met in winter to lay that year to rest and whisper our dreams to one another for the coming year. As each season came we looked forward to a reunion with nature (that perhaps we had not noticed, appreciated or anticipated before), our own creativity, each other, our own unique purpose, and God.
There is a magic melding and meshing of talents and gifts to bring each celebration to life. We often trek boxes full of china, gold place settings, firefly lights, dressed in our ballet flats, lacy skirts and flower crown into the summer woods where we set a feast of rosemary strawberry scones, homemade cider sweetened for days with honey, cinnamon and oranges. In the winter, after lighting sparklers and writing our intentions for the next year in the frosty air dressed in sequin skirts, boots and furry vests we huddle around the kitchen table and fireplace for hot winter veggie soup, warm homemade bread, and bright red pomegranates. This is not a time of competition, comparison, or pride, but a true expression of creativity and connection. We dress according to the season, and for ourselves. The tulle skirt that may have no other place to make a debut, is welcome here.
The setting is magical, but the real magic happens in the moments around the candlelit table, or bonfire when we witness for each other. We celebrate the dark parts (fears, worries, sadnesses) as well as the light parts (goals, dreams, creativity) equally. Each of us have known light and dark, yet each are able to sift through the grit and mine the flecks of gold from our experiences. We are "midwives" who help labor in the dark, to bring one another's dreams and stories to light. We don't hide, stuff or mask our dark and pain and are there to whisper "me too" to those hard things or "not true" to those negative or false ideas we hold about ourselves. In this process we are nourished, and paradoxically lifted and grounded in this safe circle. We see more clearly our own divine identities and see how God sees us, which connects us easily, in turn, with God. Another translation for atonement is "reunion." In this space I feel that reunion, as I am nourished and enabled. Elder Clayton said, ". . . we can choose and deliberately develop the spiritual root structure of our lives. We decide where to set our roots down and how deeply to sink them into the soil. Daily decisions make tiny, almost imperceptible differences in the roots of our faith, the effect of which becomes foundational. Because we don't know when or how our own challenges will come, or how long our personal seasons of winter or summer will last, we should set down our roots as deeply as we can into the only true source of nourishment for our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants our lives to be abundant." As the candles dim and the bonfire quiets, we see the "beauty for ashes" this season has brought and feel strengthened for the upcoming season. What is born each season? Resiliency, confidence, connection, and perhaps most important, compassion. These are each virtues born of adversity. The light from the dark. We know we will meet again, as light outweighs dark, or dark outweighs light, or the light and dark are equally balanced, whatever the next season may bring.
other soulstice celebrations posts here.