To the right is the view I saw when I looked out the window this morning. Last night it was still cloudy and snowing when we went to bed.
This morning the Sandias glowed pink in the pre-dawn light.
We had over a foot of snow at our house over the last 24 hours. We are happy for the snow but we are also happy for th sun that now shines on it, giving the world that blue-and-white look of winter.
According to the new calendar, today is the beginning of winter. We think of the snow as a celebration of mid-winter, according to the old calendar, which designates the winter solstice as Mid-Winter's Day.
To the right is a picture of our house on Mid-Winter's Dawn. The Shadow of clouds on the Sandias can be seen in the background. The drifts at the porch and the south wing are 3-4 feet high, covering the bottoms of the windows!
Today will be the shortest daylight of the year for us. Tonight the sun will set at the same point in the southwest it did last night--just south of Cedro Peak. Then it will be rising just a little to the north each day--bringing an increase in the amount of daylight each day. Once again, the
great dance of the earth around the sun begins!
To the left of the house is the Ponderosa Pine behind which the sun will set tonight! It is the same place the sun set last night--although we only saw a faint glow through the clouds. When the sun appears to set in the same place, it appears to stand still--which is the origin of the word "solstice" which comes from Latin: sun-stand-still. The Romans celebrated this day as the Feast of the Unconquerable Sun, which began a week of celebration called Saturnalia. The Celts celebrated this time as Yule-again rejoicing that our star appeared to stop retreating to the south. Christians celebrate the birth of their messiah at this same time--symbolically celebrating the return of light to the north.
Hannukah is not connected to the solar year. The Jewish calendar is an adjusted lunar calendar. But Hannukah starts after the last quarter moon and ends on the second day of the new moon that comes near the winter solstice. So Hannukah comes during the dark of the moon and the dark of the sun. Increasing light at this time is also symbolic of bringing light into a dark world. At the end of Hannukah, the lunar light is just beginning to increase. This year, Hannukah will end the day after the solstice--as the light of the sun is also just barely increasing. This year, especially, we are reminded of the importance of increasing light to the world as the light increases in the Menorah, as the moon begins to wax with the new month, and as the daylight increases with the passing of the winter solstice.
At dawn after the snowstorm, the dawn of the last day of decreasing light, we welcome the light of the sun!
Welcome, Star of Life, Center of the Year!
Blessed is the Eternal, Sovreign of the Universe, who fashions light and creates darkness, who makes wholeness and creates all things. With compassion, the Eternal gives light to the earth and all who dwell on it; with goodness, G-d renews the work of creation each day... Let all bless you, Eternal, for the greatness of your handiwork and for the great lights you have made: let them tell your glory throughout space and time.
May we all know joy in the increasing light and wake from our winter's rest with strength renewed.
As our roads take us to new heights, may we take with us the resolve to increase the light each day!