The all-night convenience store’s empty
and no one is behind the counter.
You open and shut the glass door a few times
causing a bell to go off,
but no one appears. You only came
to buy a pack of cigarettes, maybe
a copy of yesterday’s newspaper —
finally you take one and leave
thirty-five cents in its place.
It is freezing, but it is a good thing
to step outside again:
you can feel less alone in the night,
with lights on here and there
between the dark buildings and trees.
Your own among them, somewhere.
There must be thousands of people
in this city who are dying
to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,
to sit you down and tell you
what has happened to their lives.
And the night smells like snow.
Walking home for a moment
you almost believe you could start again.
And an intense love rushes to your heart,
and hope. It’s unendurable, unendurable.
in this fertile and dark time, may we offer our peaceful hearts to the cold quiet so that warmth may burrow in the soul……germinate…..and flower within the winter white wail of hope…….
In Celebrate the Solstice, Heinberg writes that “wisdom consists in knowing one’s place in any given cycle, and what kinds of action (or restraint of action) are appropriate for that phase.” Attuning our senses to the subtle changes and cycles of the seasons might help us attune more lovingly to the subtle changes and cycles in ourselves. By performing simple rituals with personal meaning to celebrate the solstice, these rituals will serve as touchstones to help us cultivate an attitude of receptiveness and appreciation that will carry us through the holiday season with more ease.
A good starting point might be to make a promise this winter to spend more time listening, watching, and honoring the slower, quieter rhythm of the season. On the solstice, visit a place outdoors that’s special to you—a trail you can walk or a field you can lie down in, a hillside or mountain perch that provides the perfect view, or even the roof of your apartment building or a quiet place on the edge of your yard. Consider watching the sun rise or set from your little patch of the world. Write a poem. Make a list of loving wishes for friends, family, coworkers—even people you don’t know that well. Build a shrine of nature’s found objects. Light a candle. Reflect on your aspirations for the coming months. Throw the I Ching. Say a prayer.
Creating a new tradition that brings more peace and heart to your holidays could also bring you closer to family and friends. Sharing a ritual founded on love of nature, on respect for the always renewing cycles of life, and on faith in the future has a way of bringing out the best in people. If you’d like to start your own, consider these suggestions found at CircleSanctuary.org. You might make a wreath with evergreens collected by loved ones on a walk through the woods. Evergreens, it’s said, symbolize the continuity of life, protection, and prosperity. Or build a circle of candlelight, one for each participant, and then blow them out and sit together in the darkness for a few moments offering gratitude before lighting one central, larger candle to symbolize your unity over the coming year. Ring a collection of bells at sunrise and sunset or offer seeds to winter birds and other outdoor creatures.
We too should make ourselves empty,
that the great Soul of the Universe
may fill us with its breath.