“Look for a little light anywhere in the field of darkness and ask that it may increase.” –Joan Halifax Roshi
When I look to nature, deep winter feels like a sacred time. Grandfather Sun is completing his journey across the sky. He is old now and his light is fading. Nights are long and the time of rest is upon us.
In October, the children in our weekly mindfulness classes honored their departed ones with an ancestor’s ritual. We noticed that giving attention to impermanence gave rise to a deep sense of appreciation for our own short lives. In November, we turned towards gratitude with the coming of Thanksgiving. Now, with the winter solstice approaching, we’re turning inwards. One student, an eight year old girl, has given us a new phrase for this deep place: direct darkness.
Earth-based traditions tell us that it is from this darkest place that the light is born. On winter solstice, the longest night of the year, Grandfather Sun completes his journey. The Baby Sun is born at dawn. These mythologies speak to a wisdom in each of us.
In the Zen tradition, the awakening of the Buddha is celebrated in December. It is said that after sitting through the night, upon seeing the morning star, the Buddha realized awakening and exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s it! That’s me that’s shining so brightly. How wondrous, how wondrous! All beings share this indwelling light. What an astonishing thing has been realized!”
This winter, we’ll celebrate this indwelling light with a candlelight spiral walk. We’ll meet inside for quiet songs and storytelling before walking the spiral together. In quiet walking meditation, each child first walks the spiral turning inward, gathering light at the center, and then walks the spiral turning outward, bringing her light back into the world.
We are excited to join together with Stone Creek Zen Center to offer this celebration for all ages to the general community. We ask that families please register in advance or contact Chelsea for more information.
Please bring your own candle in a wind-proof jar or apple votive. Suggested donation: sliding scale $3-$10/per person. Your generosity helps ensure that programs like these will continue to be available in our community for a long time.
Please register in advance here. Thank you!