The Shortest Day, The Longest Night, What a year this has been!
- Kamran Mofid
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‘Celebrating Our Journey With the Sun’*
‘The winter solstice, with the rebirth of the sun, offers a time for healing and hope, a time to celebrate community and relatedness,
and a time to honour the diversity and the unity of this great cornucopia of life on Earth.’- Yale Forum on Religion & Ecology
‘Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.’― J.K.Rowling
‘If the last 200 years have been shaped by industrialization, materialism and disparity, may the coming era be characterized by regeneration, stewardship and sharing. Decades from now, we may look back on this year with new understanding – as a great pause that seeded deeper awareness and new capacities.’
Monday 21 December is the 2020 Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year for people living in the Northern hemisphere.
The Solstice —derived from the Latin solstitium meaning standing sun — marks the moment the sun shines at its most southern point.,
and for centuries the Solstice has been recognised as a time of celebration and rebirth.-Photo: Medium
This year, we all have faced and experienced unprecedented difficulties, challenges and uncertainties. But the year has also been laced and interwoven with inspiration and hope, resilience and kindness, when we all have discovered the power of the common good.
COVID-19 has shown us our vulnerabilities, as well as our strength and our humanity. It has also shown us that once and for all, we are all in it together. The year has also shown us that viruses and infections are borderless, as are love and kindness.
For many of us, the GCGI family, this year has been the year where we came together not in despair, but in hope. We connected with each other and we began to value the values of togetherness, love, and sharing more than ever before.
We came together at Dawn, in poetry and literature, and gathered together in Mother Nature, although all in virtual reality, but, nonetheless, we were together in spirit, as love knows no borders.
One thing that COVID-19 has taught me is that:
All in all, in the eloquent words of Mervyn Peake, we all discovered that indeed, ‘To Live is Miracle Enough.’
Painting by Simon Drew- PENGUINS TO LIVE AT ALL IS MIRACLE ENOUGH
‘To live at all is miracle enough.
The doom of nations is another thing.
Here in my hammering blood-pulse is my proof.
Let every painter paint and poet sing
And all the sons of music ply their trade;
Machines are weaker than a beetle’s wing.
Swung out of sunlight into cosmic shade,
Come what come may the imagination’s heart
Is constellation high and can’t be weighed.
Nor greed nor fear can tear our faith apart
When every heart-beat hammers out the proof
That life itself is miracle enough.’ -Mervyn Peake, To Live is Miracle Enough
Whilst reading one of my favorite journals-KOSMOS- the following passage very much resonated with me, which I would like to share with you:
‘As you may know, a Great Conjunction occurs exactly at the solstice December 21st between the planets Saturn and Jupiter. Their light will appear to merge as a bright beacon on the southern horizon. In the northern hemisphere, many associate the return of light at the solstice with the celebrations of Yuletide, Christmas, Hanukkah, Soyal for the Hopi, Dong Zhi in China, and many others.
This particular planetary conjunction is said to be the start of a new 200-year cycle. We welcome the symbolism of renewal, rebirth and the return of light to the world.
If the last 200 years have been shaped by industrialization, materialism and disparity, may the coming era be characterized by regeneration, stewardship and sharing. Decades from now, we may look back on this year with new understanding – as a great pause that seeded deeper awareness and new capacities.
Truly, the present quality of time is like no other in our living memory. Yet, life evolved only once on Earth billions of years ago, and our ancestors passed through many portals of near extinction and rebirth. We are the collective inheritors of their wondrous resilience, skillfulness, and love.’- KOSMOS
Illustration by Sara Mulvanny
In conclusion, GCGI welcomes you wholeheartedly as we chronicle this continuing journey of Love&Hope, when we take actions in the interest of the common good.
Annie and I are grateful to all those who have journeyed through this year with us, in various ways. Friendship, love, caring and solidarity are ever more precious in these uncertain times! Thank you for being who you are.
And now I wish to share with you something from the land of my birth, remembering my childhood
and the festivities around the longest night, the shortest day, Shab-e-Yalda.
Shab-e Yalda: When Light Shines and Where Goodness, Beauty and Wisdom Prevails
'The story of Yalda may be interpreted as a tale of courage and effort during darkness, a triumph
of light and human warmth that ultimately causes the spring to bloom in hearts.'
Shab-e-Yalda - an ancient winter solstice celebration that commemorates the triumph of Mithra
Ancient Persians believed that evil forces were dominant on the longest night of the year and that the next day
belonged to the Lord of Wisdom, Ahura Mazda.
‘Because Shab-e Yalda is the longest and darkest night, it has become to symbolise many things in Persian poetry; separation from a beloved one, loneliness and waiting. After Shab-e Yalda a transformation takes place - the waiting is over, light shines and goodness prevails.'
'The sight of you each morning is a New Year
Any night of your departure is the eve of Yalda' (Sa'adi)
'With all my pains, there is still the hope of recovery
Like the eve of Yalda, there will finally be an end' (Sa'adi)
Continue to read and be inspired: Happy Shab-e Yalda
Selected related reading from our archive:
May you find joy in the simple pleasures of life and may the light of the holiday season
fill your heart with the hope for a better world
“…there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” —Ecclesiastes 3:12
*‘Celebrating Our Journey With the Sun’
Winter Solstice Celebration
For the past 40 years, Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice performances have brought people together to welcome the return of the sun and the birth of a new year. Set in the extraordinary acoustics and titanic dimensions of the world’s largest gothic cathedral, New York’s St. John the Divine, the event has grown into an extravaganza of music and dance, a contemporary celebration of renewal. This year will feature a unique version of the event, tailored to COVID times.