Winter Solstice, 2015

Again, our winter solstice ritual: up at 4 am to drive out to Hilina Pali in the dark pre-dawn. Here in Hawai’i, there is hardly a twilight: it is dark and then one blinks and the sun has risen.

The island permits only amber street lights, so as not to interfere with the deep space telescopes. So it’s very dark.

And this morning it was blackness thick with rain. Lightning flashed across the southeastern sky over the ocean. Then we turned onto a tiny road winding south across the lava and the rain gentled.

At the end of the road we clambered out, Don laden with camera bag and tripod, I clutching my notebook under a giant red rain cape. The sweet smell of molasses grass filled the wet air. In darkness, sitting on a boulder, I breathed sweetness and listened to the rain on my hood and thought about the year that has ended.

So much to regret, so much grief and anger, so much learned the hard way – oh, the hard way, still, after all these years!

Release, release, release. Bless the immense and tolerant and sweet-smelling earth, who takes it all in without judgment and turns it into compost.

I thought of how I want to grow in the new year, intentions and choices and commitments, and planted the seeds in the compost of the letting go.

And then the rain stopped and light broke through. Solstice morning! Light returns! Birds rose and sang and skimmed above the grasses.

I thought of Machado’s lines about “golden bees … making honey from my old failures.” When I got home I read again the whole poem. So today instead of my own poetry, you get pure gold:

Last Night As I Was Sleeping
Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

Joyous solstice!

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