Posted by: Ken Homer | December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice – I Hope Yule Enjoy This

Today is the Winter Solstice.

The word solstice first appeared c.1250, and is from O.Fr. solstice, from L. solstitium “point at which the sun seems to stand still,” from sol “sun” (see sol) + pp. stem of sistere “to come to a stop, make stand still” (ref: online etymology dictionary.) Today the Sun has reached its furthest declination and will be directly overhead if you are standing at the Tropic of Capricorn, it is one of the oldest days of celebration in human memory.

Tonight is also the first night of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights which commemorates both the story of  the Maccabees victory over Antiochus IV – a tyrant who had slaughtered the Jews, sacked their temple and outlawed their religion in the Second Century BCE – and the miracle of one night’s worth of oil lasting for the full eight nights of the Festival when the Maccabees were able to once more observe their tradition in the Temple of their ancestors.

People being denied their rights – to worship as they see fit, to have access to basic necessities, to live lives of dignity, to be free of political persecution and prejudice based on their skin color, their beliefs, their gender, their sexual orientation, or whatever the characteristics assessed as unacceptable by those occupying the positions of power and privilege in a given culture may be – is a long running theme in the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Likewise, the theme of an oppressed people rising up and winning victories against overwhelming odds, and of a small light burning longer and more brightly than anyone ever thought possible, is equally well-woven in the make up of our collective being. 

The movie below was shot entirely on a cell phone – itself a minor miracle. The subject matter is well known to all of us. On this, the longest, darkest night of the year, it serves as a vivid testimonial to the old Chinese proverb that it is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.

May the little bit of oil in each of us burn far longer and more brightly than we think possible.

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