We were up late enough last night to see the start of the lunar eclipse. It looked like the moon was wearing a beret, just a touch of an upper curve lying in shadow. It has been nearly four hundred years since a lunar eclipse occurred on the Winter Solstice. Gary and I stood close for a few moments outside our new home, our faces turned toward the sky as Orion stalked the darkening moon. We took it all in, this night in our first winter married, then said, "Okay, that's enough," and hurried back into the warm.
As we pass through this Solstice and begin to tilt toward the bright half of the year, I find myself thinking of another Solstice night, some years ago, when I celebrated with a community of women who carry fire in their bones. Here is a reflection I wrote shortly after that winter's night.
A Woman in Winter
In Florida, a cold snap may come at Christmastime, but it's just as likely that we'll have to run our air conditioners during the holidays. Still, I think something in my blood carries the memories of ancestors who came from colder climes, whose lives were shaped by the turning of the seasons. That's why I was delighted to receive an invitation to a Winter Solstice celebration hosted by Sister Ann Kendrick and the other sisters with whom she shares a home in nearby Apopka. Nearly three decades ago, Sister Ann helped to found the Office for Farmworker Ministries, which works with the large community of people who have struggled to make a living from working on the farms surrounding Lake Apopka. In 1998 the state bought the farms as part of an effort to clean up the lake. In the process, thousands of people lost their jobs and have found little help from the government in making the transition to a new way of life. The sisters continue to engage in creative ministry with the community, bearing powerful witness to the ways the Spirit dwells with the most disenfranchised people.
The Winter Solstice celebration offered a lively, colorful evening of stories and songs shared in Spanish and in English. The sisters' home nearly burst with women connected with the sisters and with the farmworker community. In the company of those women I shared this poem, keenly aware of how they knew in their bones what it means to journey both in darkness and in light.
A Woman in Winter
A woman in winter
and fire's warming,
depth of loss
and edge of storming.
She is avalanche,
field in fallow,
burning, carrying fire
a woman turning,
From In Wisdom's Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season © Jan L. Richardson.