I received a number of responses to my “Winter Survey,” too many for me to process into a post for my blog. Most of them have been shared on our Amherst listserv, so there is little point in repeating them here, and some were not written to be shared. I hope people found value in going through the process of taking the survey, whether it led to a written response or not.
Two themes emerged from the responses to strike a chord with me: Solstice and Generosity.
Winter Solstice is important as the shortest day of the year, and thus the darkest, and thus the time when light will begin to return. We need that now, certainly on a global level, where we seem to be stumbling through the dark, but also, for many, on a personal level, as people are struggling with anxiety and depression. I know it will take more than the wobble of Earth’s rotation to help these situations, but it may give hope, which can help. Several of you wrote of old solstice traditions involving fires, candles and lights as ways to encourage the return of daylight. Some find that dancing and celebrating does the trick to nudge the darkness away. One thing Kim and I are doing, with the help of Genne’, is Solstice Surgery on Kim’s knee. We hope it will bring a return of mobility and some release from pain.
A number of the responses to the Winter Survey mentioned some form of generosity as an important part of the spirit of the season. It’s a time for gifts – to individuals or to organizations where valuable work is being done. Generosity can also mean a gift of your time – to call, to visit, to create a card, to write a note.
Generosity also refers to an attitude or spirit of open-heartedness as well as open-handedness. We can be open-hearted with strangers as well as friends and family. Acceptance, or even forgiveness comes to mind. When you are experiencing the longest night, especially here in Northern Michigan, it’s difficult to maintain an attitude of closed-hearted self-righteousness. I know that when you forgive someone you are declaring your moral superiority to the person you are forgiving, but let’s try to be more generous of spirit than that.