By the banks of the River Arno
Florence, 21 December 2022

It is Winter Solstice today, 21 December 2022. This day the sun travels its shortest path through the sky, bringing the earth its least daylight and longest night (Britannica). A few days shy from Christmas, my personal tradition is to take a moment of stillness at Solstice to look back at the year or the years that have been.

One morning in November, at my regular Sunday pew, a wave of gratitude came over me. “Thank you for this moment, for this heart that still beats reliably. Thank you for this grace called Life; for every person and situation that brought me, in both loving and hurtful ways, to a point of transformation; for calling what courage I had in me to make necessary changes that led me here to this moment, filled with gratitude. There were setbacks, disappointments, struggles; there was heartache but also, unfailing kindness from the most unexpected places —– a sprinkle of chocolate on my coffee because the barista thought I might enjoy it more, the wave of a friend across the street who walked all the way to my home to help me carry my things because I injured my foot, the invitation from another to enjoy the roses all abloom in his garden at springtime, an acknowledgment of progress from my teacher, the numerous coffees and get togethers hosted by friends just because, and the list goes on.”

Every kindness, a reminder that life endures, through the toughest times, even when the light of day feels faintest and only the longitude of night is imminent.

This solstice let us remember that in the bleak of winter the blooms of spring push through and grow roots unseen. It is from the darker days of our lives that the fruit of our labours and the strength of our spirits are birthed into light. In this mystery we are held tenderly. Enfolded constantly. And for this, may we always be grateful.

#thepainterwhowrites #fromthelandofmaitri