We’re a few hours away from our closest brush with the sun for the year. We are also a few hours away from the darkest 4 weeks of the year. Coincidental, true, but both are good news.
Because the perihelion happens in winter, we’re blessed with a longer summer in these parts, and we’re blessed with a larger sun when we need it most. (This is mostly illusory, but so is pretty much everything else we pretend matters.)
As the days lengthen, again, I am reminded, again, of our ties to the light, to the ground, to the air and water. To say as much these days gets you labeled as some kind of Luddite or wiccan or pagan.
The crime is not separation from G_d or religion–the offense is daring to separate oneself from modern, abstract human “life”–a belief that somehow humans can separate from the world. (This falls under many guises–neoliberalism, ed-tech, “the global economy” and so many other abstract flags, none of which make us happier or healthier.)
Maybe this my gift to my students– an old soul standing in front of them, still connected (if tenuously) to the world that sustains us than the one that merely entertains us.
11:19 P.M. here–the sun stands still, shifts its mass*, and heads back north.
months ago, when we sat on the opposite side of the sun, I celebrated
the summer solstice, a joy tinged with the weight of knowing the sun
would start its slow, long course southward.
Winter is only hours away, and winters can be brutal here. The light, however is returning.
I was a child, winter meant cold, summer heat. I did not, could not,
grasp why the elders got so excited late December, at the cusp of
winter, when we faced long wintry days.
I get it now.
A decade ago I stood outside in the chilly night with my youngest, now well over thrty years old, watching our shadow drift across the moon, a wavering copper-gold washing in from the moon’s left.
used to tell me she could see me as an infant even as I stood before her
as a man. I laughed, of course. I am big–over 200# big.
I get it now.
Solstice literally means the sun stands still.
few students notice how far the sun has shifted since class started
just 3 1/2 months ago. There’s no need. Food comes in boxes, heat in
radiators. The whole world of technique is magic to them.
In Ireland this morning, the sun rose, as it has, as it will. A shaft of sunlight flashed through
a chamber in Newgrange built thousands of years ago, before the Great
Pyramids, before the Celts arrived, before Stone Henge.
will not study this in science, nor will our students study this in
history class. We will create a class ready for the 21st century, for
the abstract, for a culture that confuses bank profits with economy.
If children owned the winter solstice, the dying light, knowing what waits for each of us before a 100 winter solstices pass, would they come to school?
I believe schools can be worth the time children invest in them. I am not convinced we’re there yet.
At least not as long as I keep practicing education as religion, using a script written generations before me.
sun may indeed change direction if we use Earth as the reference point,
but “shifted its mass” is, of course, incorrect, since it implies
uneven forces were applied to it. Since I have yet to find a better
explanation for “mass” beyond “the amount of inertia stuff has,” even a
poetic license does not give me permission to spew such nonsense.