Ring out ye Solstice Bells
The winter Solstice is once again upon us, that longest night of the year. If I travel far backinto time I can see why our ancestors celebrated for the simplest reasons… the harvest has been brought in and put to attic and cellar, the meat has been preserved and is waiting to be turned into warming stews and braises and the animals are tucked away safely in the barn. The wood for the fire has been gathered andstacked. Let the bells ring out for this is the feast that heralds the transformation…soon the darkest nights will slowly begin to fade into light and the warmth will return once again.
I think that sometimes we forget how fortunate we are and how much in the realm of humanexistence has changed for the better since those times where we lived with the constant threat of plague and famine. In those days, one bad harvest could threaten the existence of an entire village and men in the households could be dragged off to battle at anytime to fight, leaving their families to face unspeakable hardship and poverty.
I have been lucky, as an American I have lived my entire life in a country where abundance was easily provided for me, where, my next meal was as easy to find as the nearest marketplace. And yet as I write this, I am painfully aware that this year, many among us don’t have the simplest resources, many are hungry, many don’t have shelter. Many of those affected are children. When I think back on Solstice’s past, I think of the parties, one of which I am throwing once again with my sister tonight. We have planned the most glorious meal, there will be a beautiful fire in the kitchen, where we’ll make wishes on a bit of last years Yule log and plenty of music to dance to and Christmas Ale and spicy mulled wine to drink.
There will be lots of laughter and plenty of sweet things to eat yet
as I make my preparations for the evening, I cannot help but be reminded of the latest statistics on hunger in this country and they are grim. 1 in 3 families go to sleep hungry in a nation where there is so much. 1 in three children go to school to get their breakfast and some don’t have anything to eat from the time that they leave school on Friday until early Monday morning. How have we let this happen? We waste so much food and so much knowledge. Look around…we have an abundance of everything but for so many there is so little.
I realized about a week ago that the amount of food that I throw out on a weekly basis would feed several children. My animals eat better than some people. I’d just seen a Dr. Oz show on hunger in America where he was talking to a women who was crying while scrounging through her garbage because someone had thrown out 3 stalks of celery and she needed every bit of food she had to feed her 4 children. I immediately sent a note out to my neighbors who are among the most generous people that I know and today I amtaking our donation of close to 400.00 to an emergency food bank around thecorner. Starvation is closer to you than you think. I found out within the last week that a dear friend of mine and her husband spent the last year in a perpetual state of hunger , but she was too proud to ask me for help. I was so incredibly upset. Most people are too proud because that’s the society that we’ve created, one where to ask for help from a friend seems to be seen as something shameful.
So this Solstice as I enjoy the laughter and comfort of my friends and the warmth of my sisters hearth I have made several promises to myself and several wishes…….
I promise that I will not make myself feel guilty for what I have, but I will share even more of it and waste less of it. I will find a way teach people to garden well, to grow their own food, to preserve it as I’ve begun to do and how to use the healing herbs growing all around us instead of relying on medicines that poison oursouls and our bodies. I will figure out a way to teach people how to cook and find a soup kitchen to serve in like my mother so long ago. To provide food is provide love and we get so busy that we’ve forgotten all about that. I love sharing a fabulous feast for my friends, but as I look around this year and see what others do not have I cannot help but think so much about the traditional origins of Solstice. We have forgotten what it means to live within our world, to live with each other and to be self- reliant.
We've forgotten how to be grateful for the light.
The poorest among us only have access to what we easily give them and if you don’t believe me just drive into the most poverty stricken sections of your city to see what I mean. Convenient stores owned by large, faceless corporations that are filled with foods that are of the scarcest nutritional value, that cost more and provide less. No real lettuce, just bags of chips, frozen pizzas and white bread; dead food with no soul.
Here in America we have all of the resources that we need to create a peaceful, abundant and prosperous world for all, but we’ve got to climb out of our cocoon and look around, spread our wings a bit and take in the view from above. Look about honestly and then roll up our sleeves and see what must be done to make our existence work for every one, not just a chosen few who somehow believe that the rest are not deserving.
I’m not a terribly religious sort of girl, but there is a message for us all in the Book of Matthew, where Jesus says “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
If you are hungry, let someone close to you know. If you are cold, let someone close to you know…. if I can do something please let me know.
Whatever your heart desires is what I wish for you, whether it be love or a new job or gallons of your favorite perfume. I wish for all of you to know just how much richness you bring to my life. I truly appreciate and am thankful for you all and if you see my secret Santa please let him know that I’d love a full bottle of Caron’s Tabac Blond perfume and a new bottle of Nuit de Noel! ( Yes, we’re still on Perfume Smellin Things!)
In this season of light, on this Wintry Solstice night please remember to be generous and brave.
Brightest Blessings until we meet again in the New Year….
Beth Schreibman Gehring
Picture courtesy of godecookery.com