The longest night

Here we are once again at the turn of the year.  I like to mark the winter solstice and the return of the light.  The days from now on will be getting longer, and in six months we will be sitting in the sun on the longest day of the year.  Seasons turn around year after year without paying attention to the concerns of people.

It has been a tough couple of years for many and I truly thought we had turned a corner this fall when I reopened Issoan for in-person lessons.  But Covid continues to spread around the world and closer to home.  It has been a bad flu season with hospitals filling up again.  The war still rages in Ukraine, and politics continue to divide us in the U.S.  I have also lost some very good friends to cancer this year.

I was always proud, too proud maybe, of my ability to sit seiza in the tea room.  This summer, I was diagnosed with arthritis in my hands and knees, and now I have periodic flare ups that make it painful to walk or go up and down stairs.  At these times, it is impossible to get up and down in the tea room or sit for more than 10 minutes.   I have trouble holding utensils in my hands, and yes, typing can be painful.  Fortunately, with physical therapy, exercise, and medication, I can mitigate it.

I am getting to the age where all these things make me feel my mortality.  And so today, as we reach the zenith of night, I am contemplating the winter of my life.  I have such an extra ordinary life.  I could never have predicted the richness of my experience, nor the relationships I have and had with such amazing people.  I am grateful for my comfortable life with electricity, water, and heat at the turn of the button.  I have permanent shelter and I am free from financial worries.  I get to pursue my passion with the support of people around me.  Everyday I wake up and see my husband.  I tell him that I am so happy to have another day with him, the love of my life.

With all of these advantages, I have been able to help people around me.  Sometimes financially, sometimes just lending a sympathetic ear.  During the last few years of my Dad’s life, as I was taking care of him, he started calling me “Sunshine” and looked forward to my visits weekly, and at the end of his life, daily.  My husband calls me the bringer of light, otherwise he says his life would be a much darker place.

So now we are here, at the turn of the year where we crave the light after the longest night.  We will return to the light in the sky as the days begin to lengthen.  But we can all be the bringer of light to the people around us.  Be the light you want to see in the world.

You cannot force a flower to open, but you can become the sun.
~The Algonquin Medicine Man.

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