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In this Moment of Quiet on Solstice Eve

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

Today is the second day of Solstice. Everything is quiet. Shall we tell ourselves a little story about a quiet winter evening like this one when the daylight hours seem to stand still and we have little to do but wait for spring?

On such nights, because not a single mouse is stirring, many people notice the rustling of the wind. Others notice how bright the stars are in a clear sky, even with all the city lights. Sometimes on the eve of the Solstice, it feels as though the whole world has taken a deep breath. It was on just such a night, on a Solstice Eve, just like today, that a friend of ours decided not to go to a holiday party and not to go shopping for holiday gifts. Our friend did not volunteer at a local soup kitchen or begin cooking in anticipation of family arriving for a big holiday meal. Our friend pulled on an old jacket, the one with a tear in the elbow and a zipper that requires a little coxing to get started. Our friend stepped out on the street and took notice of the world.

The air was crisp and there were a few stars visible beyond the street lights. The hum of traffic was not at all interrupted with honking or the roar of a souped up engine. Our friend noticed neighbors, some known by name, some barely recognized, and some even unknown entirely. But everyone passing by felt like neighbor to our friend on that quiet Solstice Eve.

The days were short and the nights were long and this particular night, the second of the five days of Solstice, gave our friend a moment to take stock. There were some joys in the previous year and there was some grief too, indeed, some very deep grief in that previous year, but our friend noticed that both were born out of deep connections. Life itself provided those connections so when illness and death struck, there was grief. Likewise when fires and floods came, there was fear and anxiety. Joy, too, our friend noticed came from connection. Like how the joy of a sunrise reminded our friend of all the days that the earth had been circling the sun—for millennia before our friend’s birth. Remembering that, our friend also remembered that whatever was coming, the earth itself would continue spinning for many millennia after the passing of every person who was alive and breathing on that particular night.

Our friend leaned against a lamp post, enjoying the brisk air. “Good evening,” a passerby said in the casual way that people do when they aren’t rushed.

“Good evening to you,” said our friend, “And how are you?”

Drawing by Maggie Brennan, Mercy Corps Volunteer, 2018-2020
The passerby passed by on the way home

“I woke up this morning, so I’m doing just fine,” said the passerby, “and I have a place to sleep tonight, which I haven’t always had, so yes, I have to say I’m doing just fine. And you?”

“The same for me,” said our friend. “It’s a quiet night and I’m enjoying it.”

The passerby passed by and our friend sighed. It was a good night for noticing the comings and goings of people and days and even years. “This is just what the second night of Solstice should be,” thought our friend. “A night to notice, to pay attention, and to be still.”

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