The skies this past week in my area have been a mix of sun and clouds with less daylight than darkness. Though this is a bit depressing to me, I know better days are ahead. The winter solstice, or shortest day of the year, is set to arrive at 11:49PM on December 21 in my area. On this day, the sun is the farthest south in the sky it can go, -23.5 degrees from the Equator.
For a few days before and after the winter solstice, the sun’s position at sunrise and sunset appear to be the same. The word solstice is derived from the Latin words for “sun” and “to stand still” which appropriately describes this change in nature. Based on my observations while running and biking this past week, I must agree the locations of sunrise and sunset have not appeared to change much.
Reasons to Celebrate
In many cultures of the world, the winter solstice is celebrated for different reasons. These celebrations include:
- Alban Arthan, marking the death and rebirth of the sun
- The Feast of Juul, acknowledging the heat, light, and life-giving properties of the sun
- Saturnalia, in honor of the Roman God of agriculture and harvest
Personal Reasons to Celebrate
In our house, we have our own reasons for celebrating the winter solstice:
- After December 21, the days will start to get longer and I’ll have more daylight to run, bike, and do activities outside that I very much enjoy.
- December 21 is the anniversary of the day I adopted my Black Lab, Luke, from the local dog shelter. Luke was believed to be 1-1/2 years old at the time of the adoption, and since his real birthday is not known, we celebrate what we believe is his “half birthday” on December 21. This year, we are celebrating Luke’s turning 11-1/2 years old.
Chasing the Sun
With such limited daylight this time of year, I relish any time I can see the sun. This past week, I was able to capture the sun and clouds with my camera while running, biking, and walking with my German Shepherd, Sadie. These moments act as reminders of the promises to come: more light, less dark, and the coming changes of the seasons that keep life moving onward.
On more than one occasion this past week, I found myself “chasing the sun” trying desperately to get into a position to watch it rise, set, or dance with the clouds to create warmth and hope in my soul. These occasions inspired the following poem:
Chasing the Sun
Morning star of the east
Rising as far south as you can be,
Spreading rays of hope
Through the day as it goes
Onward in the river of time
Toward the shores of life
Where the sands rise to meet
The Lord’s commands in what comes to be
Part of nature’s changes allowing the soul
To rearrange and unfold
From the seed planted in the soil
Into the shoot of the reed that toils
Chasing the sun and its rays
Blessed by heaven above and God’s grace.
Orb of light amid the clouds
Dancing before the soul on the ground
Watching the rays reflect and spread
Like waves lapping the shore time and again
To restore the heart and the mind
Through nature’s art in the sky
From where the sea of life flows
Emitting energy as it goes
From east to west, day to night
Allowing the soul to seek and request, on the way through life
Chasing the sun and its energy
Allowing the soul to become who it needs to be.
Moon on the rise at the tail of the day
Gracing the sky with its glowing face
While casting shadows amid the blue
As the river flows on its way to
Another season and a different time
Given meaning by the Lord divine
Through hope and faith, love and light
Chasing the sun and its rays through the gift of life.
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
December 19, 2015
Resources and Related Links
Winter solstice – http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice.html
Winter solstice celebrations – http://farmersalmanac.com/astronomy/2015/12/15/get-ready-for-the-2015-winter-solstice/