In the Northern hemisphere on December 21 at precisely 5:23 PM Eastern Standard Time, the earth shifts on its axis. This is remarkable, considering the earth is whirling around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour! In the middle of traveling at this mind-blowing speed, at this precise moment, the earth turns and reverses its direction, shifting the tilt of its axis.
The moment it makes this turn is called the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere and the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. The Greek astronomers observed that the earth appeared to stand still because the shift on its axis was at such a slow rate it appeared to not turn (Solstice is taken from Greek words “sol” meaning sun and “sistere” meaning “to stand still.”).
For the next few days, in the north, the earth’s turning yields only a few seconds of additional light. The additional light is not perceptible to the human eye and only astronomers with precise instruments can detect the difference.
What an amazing metaphor for our life!
Transforming our life is often a slow turning away from those things we attach ourselves to. The need to be right, look good, blame and judge or feeling not enough—all the thoughts and actions that keep us away from living with the freedom and lightness we desire.
Once you “see the light” it is rarely an immediate transformation, but inside you know something has shifted. You can feel the difference, which gives you energy and faith to keep shifting. Others may not detect the difference yet, but you have begun to shift your axis from darkness to light.
Almost all spiritual traditions celebrate Solstice and “the return of the light” in some way. It is a universal celebration from all corners of the earth and all cultures, because it signals a time for learning, transforming, and becoming new again.
On our Northwest Island where we call home, we enjoy dense forests with large cedar and fir trees. While walking a few nights ago, we both forgot our flashlight. It was the darkness that allowed us to see the starry night in its full beauty.
If it wasn’t for the darkness, you wouldn’t see the star-lit night.
This is the common human experience. When you experience dark times—when you are in the drama of difficult relationships with yourself and others—you wonder if you will find your way through. You may feel you are standing still. If so, that’s good! Standing still means you have started to shift your axis.
You may not always love the darkness and standing still because it is hard to appreciate the lessons embedded in the cycle of darkness and light, especially when mired in the darkness. In this same way, it is our wish that you may grow to embrace your drama as part of the nature cycle of human experience. As you observe and learn from your reactive thinking and behavior, you can view it as a necessary step toward growth and transformation.
Solstice is a time of celebration. It is a time to pause, and to have faith that the light will return. In the same way you trust the earth’s movement around the sun and its Solstice turning, we invite you to trust you are shifting your axis. With this faith, you will find an inner lightness that nurtures a way through the darkness.
And out of the darkness, you will more fully embrace and grow the light of your Creator essence.