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Do-It-Yourself Solstice

My Winter Solstice celebration featured friends, meditation, candles, music, readings, hope, prayer, laughter, and Chinese fortune cookies!

The original plan for an outdoor solstice, in a park with hiking trails and a bonfire, was cancelled because of rain. But, a flurry of phone calls later, four of us had fashioned a different kind of solstice celebration -- one that proved memorable for us all. One friend offered her house; another brought drums and takeout Chinese food. My contribution was a solstice ritual I found while Googling, thanks to the Young Adults of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley. We adapted it to our needs.

We started our evening around the dinner table, catching up on our recent adventures. Then we moved into the living room, where our hostess played a haunting tune on a Native American flute. Three chimes of a bell signaled the start of our time of silent meditation in total darkness. The energy there, which had been heightened since our grace before dinner, built more and was wonderfully gentle and peaceful. After the three chimes closed our meditation, we walked with our candles into another room, where we gathered by candlelight and firelight to affirm aloud what we wanted to leave behind -- fear, self-doubt, perfectionism, depression and more -- and then what we wanted to bring in -- joy, love, spontaneity, confidence, and the list went on. And we prayed for so many people -- ones we knew and ones we would never meet -- who are in need of physical and emotional healing.

One of us shared her wish to know her "true place in my self and in the world." These words resonated powerfully with me. The inclusion of what we want to shed from our lives, and what we want to bring in, is what I cherish most about solstice celebrations.

Once the ceremony had ended and the lights were on, we joined in Christmas caroling -- a wonderful outpouring of joy. The final touch of the evening, as we prepared to leave, was opening our Chinese fortune cookies and sharing our fortunes!

The words of the night's opening reading were truly beautiful, so I will share them here:

"Oh God, you create day and night rolling away light before darkness,
darkness before light.
Thank you for the darkness.
The darkness holds us and nurtures us.
The darkness restores our vitality and empowers us.
The darkness comforts us, renews us, provides the canvas upon which to envision our dreams.
So that by the light we can do the work of love and of justice."

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