A Birth of New Hope
Children of Earth, the dawn has come and today we have seen the first day that is longer than the day before it. The solstice, yesterday's blessing of light after the dark night, fulfills its promise today, showing that the wheel has turned, and that light has come back.
This is the dawn of the year, the light that begins softly and opens the gates of heaven for the sun. This is a time of hope, of viewing potential in a spark of light, of seeing the painted heavens that bear promise and joy.
Dawn is a curious thing: it is liminal and it is luminous; it is soft and it is sure; it is harmony and it is healing.
Dawn is also a double-edged sword: it is the last of all dawns before it, the oldest of all those you may ever see; but it is also the first of all dawns that will come after it, the youngest and most full of potential of all dawns you may see again.
Though each dawn steals a day from us and shortens our lives, its appearance also grants us a new day, and tells us that we are not yet at our end.
When the dawn has arrived, she is new and young: the bringer of hope and the bright light that guides us. Today, on this day after the Solstice, this is how we should see the dawn of the year, as the beginning of things new, as the beginning of something special. What is old is gone; what is new and promising is all that remains.
The dawning of the Winter solstice is celebrated widely, but even faiths and peoples who do not celebrate the solstice itself recognize this return of hope and joy, and celebrate it now. Some of these many traditions, familiar or not, are well worth noting:
- Jews celebrate the rededication of the Temple at Hanukkah, when the sacrifices were restored and a new age began.
- Romans celebrated Saturnalia, a festival of the god Saturn, who is said to have brought both agriculture and letters to the Latin states during the golden age of prosperity and joy.
- Romans (I mention them again because if anyone knew how to celebrate things, it was them) also celebrated the birth of the unconquered sun, Sol Invictus, at this time.
- Christians place the birth of their savior at this time, ushering in a new hope for mankind
- modern Pagans celebrate the feasts of their ancestors, and the hinge of light and dark, through such ancient customs as decorating trees, singing bright songs, and drinking the night away. I call these things ancient because they are so different from what we do today, of course.
- Even secular events carry this theme. Consider that Washington crossed the Delaware at this time, leaving behind a dark period of defeatism in the Continental Army, and marking a new day and turning point in morale for American troops in the Revolution
- about the only new hope that didn't happen at this time of year was the first episode of Star Wars, which happened in May.
There is something in our understanding of this time of year, an acknowledgement of the cycles that we experience, a recognition of the wheel that turns and re-turns through our lives. We, ourselves, are made up of these cycles, and we have an opportunity to change ourselves and be more each year.
This is the great dawn of the year, the time when all things are just a glimmer, and we can choose to draw them out of the darkness and fan them into full flame. Everything is potential, waiting to warm us, and to be warmed by our enthusiasm.
So I call on you, Children of Earth all, to honor the hope and the joy in this new dawn, to seek the bright future we all have before us, and to know that each new day from here forth is a day that is full of this new hope. So be it.