Hundreds of geese flew over in honking "v" formations near sunset yesterday as I was lighting candles in front of the house, Canadas headed for a night on the lake at Red Haw after a day foraging in harvested fields. Spirits, grounded by concern for an acquaintace critically ill and unconsicous in a Des Moines hospital after multiplle episodes of cardiac arrest, lifted for the moment and soared with them.
Simple stuff in a time and season of great general confusion and self-created complexity on nearly every level, much of it needless and without point.
Earlier, during an atypical mid-December afternoon when temperatures reached the mid-50s, the nature of the late-afternoon late-autumn light as it illuminated water, grasses and cattails had accomplished the same purpose.
The winter solstice is near, an ancient cause to light candles and bonfires against the darkness in our hemisphere of fragile earth. The solstice instant comes at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday; Thursday, the first official day of winter.
Soon after, Christmas; the winter solstice instant of the spiritual tradition most of us are most familiar with whether we embrace it or not, when light is kindled weakly at first in the darkness, we gather to tell the old stories again, and then the hours of redemptive sunshine and rebirth begin to lengthen.
All of this becomes empty, irrelevant or threatening only when we lose our sense of wonder, restrict necessary compassion for everything we share creation with --- and forget gratitude. Here's a little meditation about both wonder and gratitude. Although not identified, the unseen narrator for much of this is the Benedictine friar David Steindl-Rast.