This winter the solstice (Saturday December 21 at 11:11 PST) marked a turn to a new year at a level I've not felt for a while. I usually spend it with my Elder's Circle down in the Santa Cruz area conducting ceremony in a hollowed out redwood tree that will hold a dozen people in its charcoal teepee-like interior. Chayim Barton would lead us in letting go of the old and dancing in the new, and sharing stories of Manibozo and singing in the light. But Chayim is in the bardo now, having died in a bicycle accident on November 14th. He was a student of Lama Yeshi, the Tibetan rinpoche who came to Santa Cruz in the 1960s and established the Vajrapani monestary there. Chayim was my teacher in that tradition, inviting the deep integration of the masculine and feminine, dedicating oneself to the enlightenment of all sentient beings, praying for compassion and acceptance of life as a dream, and spirit and connection to all there is as a truer identity. So now I am on my own, opening to the Susan-in-me and finding wholeness, opening to the Chayim in me and finding guidance from an inner place.
The stories of Jesus and this time of Christmas are ringing with new meaning. Historians don't know the precise time of Jesus' birth, but it makes mythic sense that it would gravitate to the same time of year that people since the beginning of time have held as sacred, the Winter Solstice, when the night is the longest and the promise of the sun returning a matter of faith. It is the time when we pray to have the inner strength to endure and relationships that we can lean into for support.