Sunrise after the Longest Night

Tonight is crisp, and bone-chillingly cold. The temperature is in the low 20’s, but the wind chill makes it feel only single digits above zero Fahrenheit. The night sky is sharp and clear; Orion is prominent overhead. Smoke curls from most every chimney; the warmth of light and conversations inside belie the cold night. The Winter Solstice has passed, and we, on our lovely ride we call Earth, are trudging slowly in the direction of longer, warmer days. The orbit of our planet, the cycle of our seasons, and the direction of our lives—it’s all The Grand Metaphor of Life and Death.

Stonehenge_sunset_winter_solstice_mid_1980s-300x210Winter and summer are created by a 23.5° tilt in the Earth’s axis. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice represents the moment in the year when the sun is as far south as it goes (the imaginary Tropic of Capricorn). The Northern Hemisphere is tilted farthest away from the sun, so the days are shorter and much colder. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun rises and sets from the southernmost points on the horizon. As the Earth’s orbital position changes, the sun seems to rise and set a little more north each day.

Many ancient civilizations have observed and celebrated the Winter Solstice. Identifying the Longest Night was crucial to the survival of a society. To recognize and celebrate the Solstice was to conjure Hope—Hope in the return of the sun, of warmth and light, of food and vegetation for family and animals, for sowing of crops, for mating of animals. It represented a turning point in the rationing of the winter reserves between harvests. As the shortening of days and colder weather brought harsh and dire living, the Winter Solstice represented the hope of spring and summer. Stonehenge in England and Machu Picchu in Peru were monuments built to tracking the sun’s yearly progress.

 

My Life Coaching business is Sunrise Journeys. The idea for the name comes from something I’m told my wise mother-in-law frequently would say. When someone was troubled, stressed, or in crisis (including my wife), my mother-in-law would advise, “Get a good night’s sleep. Things will look better in the morning.”

I feel the same hope that is born in the sunrise after the longest night exists in each morning’s sunrise. What is hope, but the attitude that you can and will endure and persist, and things will improve? Even our ancestors needed to have that, to be given reassurance that tomorrow would bring light and warmth.

We each need hope of more light, more warmth. Belief that we will endure, and things will improve. Although our journeys seem separate, we are all on this Earth journeying together. Sometimes, we need help finding the hope. Sometimes we can provide the help.

When you get the good night’s sleep, and things do look better in the morning—that’s a good time to plot more of your journey. Because that is when your heart and mind see the potential within you, your future spring and summer.

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