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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Solstice is a real thing

We usually light a candle (ideally using the power of the setting sun) on one side of the solstice to keep burning until the light of the sun on the other side is shining. Ridiculously sentimental, I know, but I think this observance builds mindfulness of natural processes which otherwise would pass without notice, especially at a time of year when there is so much shopping to be accomplished. There is no faith required to celebrate this event: It happens every year; we can use mathematics to determine the exact moment when the tilt of the north end of our globe reaches its maximum point away from the sun, and so then begins to move our faces fuller into the sun. Humans long ago figured out the earth/sun movements that create the seasons and so we no longer worry about the sun returning from the depth of winter (especially in southern CA), free now to worry instead about getting a good price on gifts. But can we pause for a moment to recognize the sun's importance to our lives, and how the earth's particular orientation to the sun has produced seasonal variations and myriad and interesting adaptations in living things?

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