Monday, 23 December 2013

Winter Solstice

Solstice 2010, labyrinth by Annie, Ray and Luke
I always try to mark the Winter Solstice somehow. The other year ( and I mention 2010 rather than other years because I've got photos!), unable to get the the event I'd planned, we decided to look for the creative potential in the snow that had stopped us travelling, rather than the obstacle it had presented, and went to the local playing field to map out a labyrinth.
me at the centre of the solstice labyrinth

I am drawn to labyrinths, the journey inwards, the pause at the still centre, the journey outwards, inner world, outer world ...

There was a stillness, a sense of slowing down or standstill that year; nobody was going anywhere much because of the weather - or at least not without great difficulty - an 'Isa' or Ice-time perhaps, for the Rune-lovers among us.

This year was different. I was very aware in the days preceding the 21st December, of the dominance of the night, as I spent each day around twilight and first darkness on the motorway, driving to and then heading home from visiting my Mum who is in hospital.  The first night it was just dark and blustery, but I was relieved she'd been admitted, and the moon was full.
full moon near Stokesay 2013
Clouds unvelied the moon at intervals, reminding me of her quiet companionship, and all seemed hopeful. The next night, Mum's condition was troubling me greatly. A storm whipped up, rain slashed at my tiny car and huge lorries thundered past like monsters, splattering my windscreen. I felt alone, vulnerable, sad, afraid; tears welled up and made visibility even worse. The words of a verse from a psalm became my mantra, chanted over and over:
 'Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will hide under the shadow of your wings until the destroying storms pass by.'
Psalm 57:1

It's a verse I  have been wearing in a capsule round my neck ever since our visit to Glastonbury during the October storm. I love the image of hiding under Divine wings. It's a post waiting to be written another time, and the inspiration for  my'healing book' title, 'Hiding in God', and part of its contents.

It seems I'm in the middle of a storm at present. I felt reassured by the one in October because we personally were hardly troubled by it, despite the fact that we were camping in a field. Somehow it passed us by with little more than a teasing rock of the campervan. The next morning, the sky was the brilliant blue of perfect clarity.

Chalice well blackbird
Yesterday, the day of the solstice, I pulled into the hospital car park as robins and blackbirds put their hearts into the closing songs of the day, from the nature reserve right next to the car park. I watched through windows as the light gradually diminished, pleasantly pinkish. A large part of me yearned to be outdoors in the cold fresh air, surrounded by the comfort of trees. But no, indoors was where I needed to be: outer world, inner world, outdoors, indoors, there are labarynthine times for both. The corridors and stairwells of the hospital are the pathways inwards to the safe refuge where Mum is being nursed. We wait to hear when she will emerge.

Driving home in full darkness, watching the solstice minutes, 5.17, 5.18, 5.19pm pass by on the car clock, I was accutely aware of journey. Cyclical journey, life journey. I could see the ring on my finger - a yin yang symbol, which I put on specially that morning. Change comes like the moon in the deep darkness of night. It's not been an easy solstice, nor the most well-planned for, but it's been a significant one.

 a raindrop, Meanwood park

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