A New Word For A New Year

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Feed the Solstice fire bowl with hopes and dreams
Image by Patrick Gulke

Learning To Under-do

Happy Solstice! New Year! My wish? May this year be a time for assimilation of new ideas and greater understanding for us all. My own cycle of renewal starts with the Winter Solstice, not so much January 1. That moment in time when the balance of dark and light begins to shift back towards the light has always felt full of possibility to me, like a change point when we might tip ourselves away or towards whatever we choose. This Solstice was especially lovely since, after several frustrated attempts in recent years, we finally managed to celebrate the Solstice together as a family.

My grandkids were very excited about setting up the fire bowl and writing out our Solstice petitions. We like to write down things we want to let go of and things we want to get better at, as well as some world-wishes for peace and healing. We wrote on origami paper, which the kids folded into fire birds to give to the flames. They wrote with great concentration and mostly in silence (we don’t share our messages unless we choose to). The elder one did ask me how to spell patience, and the younger one asked how to spell provocative (she hears that from me fairly often: “Now THAT is provocative behavior, trying to get someone else in trouble…”). I was touched by both requests, and didn’t ask them about anything else they wrote, feeling sure that their words were both honest and heartfelt however spelled. My words were also heartfelt, especially the one I chose as my guide for the year to come: Under-Do!

Burning Away The Dross

We had planned to start the fire at exactly 4:32, Solstice sunset time around here. The youngest lit the kindling, which caught quickly, but some over enthusiastic poking caused the fire to fall apart and go out. We started again, with a little more restraint, and soon the bowl was full of flame, glowing against the darkening sky. The pale moon rose above the rooftops, just a few days off the full, with Jupiter shining beside her, brighter than any star. One by one we fed the fire with our petitions and pledges, the little birds flying into the flames, sending our words up to the stars in showers of sparks. It took a while. After such a dark and difficult year for our family, for the country, for the planet, there was a lot of let go of and a lot to hope for.

After their parents went back inside, the kids and I stayed by the fire until it fell into ashes and embers. The wood was dry and the fire burned fast, though a fair amount of poking sped the process up; who can resist poking a fire with a stick? When all the brightness was gone, we held hands for a moment then went inside together, quietly and thoughtfully. With six people sleeping in our little house, the space felt very full, though as they left, separately or together, it felt like we may not all meet again that way, or not for a while. Since then, I’ve been holding on to my chosen word, thinking about how to live into it, what that might look like this year and going forward. Under-doing is new territory for me, but I’m looking forward to exploring it. Onward, right?

Let’s brighten the darkness however we may

This entry was posted in Care & Feeding, Crafting With Children, Health & Wellbeing, Sustainable Living and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A New Word For A New Year

  1. Beth says:

    thanks for sharing such a beautiful family moment!

  2. Ann Ohlin says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing that. I think I’ll do something similar however belatedly! Ann

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Ann, when we think about choosing a new direction,
      I don’t think a particular date matters, or even a
      time of year, really. I try to be clear that I’m not
      making a resolution as much as holding an intention.
      Not a question of failure when I don’t manage to
      follow the chosen direction, just something to
      notice and adjust for, or so I think.

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