Saturday, December 21, 2013

The day of the "Longest Night"...a time for honesty, and for fulfilling promises made.

Yesterday, we fulfilled a promise to our kayaks...and they fulfilled a promise to us. For the months during which we were away from home this year, they patiently waited, knowing that they would again feel the refreshing caress of the sea and the wind on their streamlined hulls and decks. They knew their paddlers would return.

At the same time, we had looked forward to the day when we would again feel their gentle and responsive companionship, their promise of freedom, and their listening “ear” as we explored familiar coves and shoreline crannies together. Yes, I “talk” to my kayak...but perhaps it’s more of a silent and subliminal sharing of thoughts and meditations. Like a cherished friend, it listens, affirms my presence, encourages my pondering - and forgives my mistakes. Its lively, three-axial movements in the water, spark both ideas and contemplations.

The winter solstice...

I find something so very symbolic about this day, December 21st, the winter solstice. It is the shortest day, and the longest night of the year. It is the first day of winter. This morning, in an infinitely brief instant of time, around 0911 hours in our Pacific Time Zone, the earth’s tilt was at 23.5 degrees. As it always does the sun nudged closer to the horizon, in that moment, than at any other time during the entire year.

And then it began its new journey...all the way towards the summer solstice.

Here in the northern hemisphere, our days will now begin to lengthen and our nights will grow shorter, albeit almost imperceptibly for awhile, until the summer solstice next June. The sun always keeps its promise. It seems that on this day, the sun’s journey may offer a message. It reminds us to likewise fulfil the promises we have made to ourselves, and the promises we have made to others.

Since the beginning of time, our closest star, the sun has established a pattern and a promise. Faithfully, it rises in the morning and sets in the evening. Its arc through the sky is always lowest at the time of the winter solstice and highest at the time of the summer solstice - year after year, millennium after millennium. Its energy, warmth, and light promises life itself. The sun always keeps it promises.

I must honour this occasion. So, on this day of the "Longest Night", I will ensure that the promises made to care for and respect this fragile planet are carried out, the promises made to care for others are fulfilled, and the promise of self-care, made to myself, is honoured.

This day and this night can pass by unnoticed or they can be seen as an opportunity to ensure that actions match words, and that best intentions become demonstrated practices.

As the days begin to lengthen, it is an opportunity to be deeply honest with ourselves, to believe in ourselves, and in the inherent goodness of all people everywhere. It is a time to allow the gathering light to illuminate reasons for thankfulness, optimism and hope. It is a day to promise to always look for the beauty and the grace in every human being - and then find it.

The sun has always kept its promises...on this day of the "Longest Night", I will endeavour to keep mine.


  1. Hi Duncan, I seem to let days like this just pass by without giving them much thought. You've given me "pause" to think. And I REALLY need to "pause" more often at this time of the year! Thank you for that - and welcome back. :>). Gen.

  2. Looks like it was a nice day to be on the water. A great message for us all on this special day.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. A thoughtful and inspiring post Duncan, and definitely a special time of year. As well as the sun's influence, tonight the moonrise will be central between the flanking stones of many of the stone circles in the north east of scotland. Promises made and kept for millenia; it's very humbling.

    So good to see you both back on the water too :o)

    Best wishes

  4. Hi Gen, I let a lot of days go by without sufficient "pausing" - and it's difficult to find a good excuse for that! :) I'm glad you found the post meaningful. Nice to hear from you. Best wishes. Duncan.

    Hi L, yes it was simply great on the water - as always. We hoped for more "wintry" photographs but although our home was above the "snow line", sea level was well below it. Thinking about you all at "Longest Night". D.

    Hi Ian, yes, it is so very humbling that ancient people, all over the world found meaning and mystery at the time of the solstice. Great memories of visiting Tomnaverie stone circle with you and Linda. It's great to be back on the water. :) Warm wishes to you both and safe travel. Duncan.

  5. Hi Duncan, great blog and much enjoyed. I think at this time of year when it is dark for much of the day we have more time to stop and reflect on the passed year.
    I am a bit confused though regarding the photos, they look Scottish to me!!.

  6. Haha! No it was an authentic Canadian "dreich" day, Mike. You just don't want the world to know that the skies are ALWAYS blue in Scotland...and it only rains at night. Just like "Camelot". :) I wish we could bring the kayaks in our suitcase! Warm wishes to you all. Duncan and Joan.

  7. Looks like a perfect Yule to me Duncan.The heavens once was such a major part of life that we celebrated it; glad to see some still do Duncan!

  8. Thanks for that, Lee. It's a marvellous planet we're on, that whirls through time and space. So much to take in, most of it so shrouded in mystery...just the way a lot of us like it. :) Warm wishes to you and you family this special season. Duncan.