For longer than I can remember, I have considered the winter solstice to be the turning point of the calendar year. In my mind the new year begins then. The darkest night, heralding the coming light – the re-borning of life, the warming of our souls – all those things having been passed down to us from our forebears in the northern European tradition, huddled around night fires to be certain they survive the long darkness. Yeah, I know that’s a bit melodramatic but you get the picture. Take away TV, computers and central heat and I – 95 we’re not so far apart.

A little drumming, a little single malt, a little holding hands in the fading light of our fire reflecting off the trees and the long night is duly acknowledged and honored. CA and I have had that little ceremony several times when schedule and weather allowed. It’s our little ceremony of the cycle of life.

The one central idea of any solstice ceremony is hope. The coming light and life that rises from the darkness and death of deepest winter. The days become longer and sunrises come earlier streaming in our windows, awakening us long before we are ready.

What is hope but the expectation of good things. Here are a couple of items on my Hope List.

I hope for health. Without it none of this other stuff matters much. What that would mean for me is to eat less, drink less, move more and clean up my mind. I’ll not bore you with messy particulars about how I am proposing to reach those goals. Actually there are none yet. That’s the hard part. I’m open to suggestions. I know you have it figured out already.

I hope for peace. There’s probably a better chance for me loosing my belly fat than peace breaking out around the world. Yet, peace could take root in my life if I tried – I think. At least some of the books of he Blessed say that. For that to happen, however, I’d have to put forgiveness to work and that has not been my favorite thing through the years. There’s nothing quite as tasty as a few long-lasting, deeply rooted and completely justifiable grudges. It’s actually a little scary to contemplate what might happen should I give them up and all that energy used to maintain and nurture those grudges is freed up. What would I do with it? What would it do with me?

There are many lesser things to hope for, but those two items could occupy me for a while. The light is surely coming. The path will be in plain sight. So be Healthy. Be Peace. Spread your special light about. Let it shine on me.

Jerry Henderson

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