“...this is the solstice, the still point / of the sun, its cusp and midnight, / the year’s threshold / and unlocking, where the past / lets go of and becomes the future; / the place of caught breath…” - Margaret Atwood, Eating Fire: Selected Poetry
The winter solstice, celebrating the return of the light, has always occupied a place of balance within me. While it is true that the gentle slide through dark winter months has finally reached its turning point, and the solstice promises longer, lighter days, those days are still months away. It is a grounding lesson to acknowledge that the winter solstice’s joyous implications will, as always, come with the steady, cyclical rhythm belonging to natural things – things such as seasons, moons, pedaling feet, paddle strokes…
My family would stockpile our brush and branches all summer long, and on the solstice evening, have an absolutely massive bonfire, with friends and family arriving bundled against the December chill. In no great amount of time, the bonfire created a bubble of warmth that caused us all to unload our layers and our spiritual pockets, full from another year of life. We’d toss sticks into the fire, accompanied with anything we wanted to let go of, and toss more bearing our intentions for the coming year. It’s no secret that fire is a powerful gathering place.
In my time as a leader of young people in the wilderness, I relished teaching fire-building (with or without matches, dry wood, or birch bark) and watching the accomplishment and independence, which grow from that skill, flourish. Now, I am lucky to be kindling other sorts of fires with Red Canoe Foundation, fires of possibility and opportunity.
Solstice means sun-stop. Take a moment, today, to find your still point, your place of ‘caught breath’, and then consider helping us make these possibilities and opportunities as real as the joyous return of the summer sun.
Josephine Moore, Advisory Panel