In the Pacific Northwest, light is a cherish commodity, a gift where gray skies are the norm and drizzle our daily condiment. When winter solstice nears, Island pagans everywhere light up knowing the next day will bring a few more minutes of the good stuff, the gleaming gold rays of a longer day and the promise of more to come.
On this winter solstice, I had been enlisted by my friend, Karen to join her army of mischief makers for a task worthy of this day: luminary maker and coffeecake baker. Once the gathered Illuminati were fed and the coffee poured, we got to work. Karen, easily the most energetic and organized woman on Vashon, set up a staging area and assembly line for our tasks at hand. We rotated duties between bag opener, sand pourer, candle dropper, wick flicker (wicks in the upright and lock position for easier lighting), and loader of luminaries on truck flatbeds.
My Christmas tree: Lighting from within
Later that evening when I drove back with friends to see what a sand-filled sandwich bag could be elevated to, magic met us at the intersection. As we turned right, the road through Paradise Valley was aglow with dollops of light inching up the hills and curving through the woods. We crept along not wishing to miss a vista or hurry the moment. Six miles later, we turned around for a repeat show.
I knew the light wouldn’t linger all night, that when the stars insisted, the luminaries would turn to the sky, and our earthbound celebration would be over, but certainly not the joy of the moments before.
Returning home, I sat on my porch, looking out at my favorite madrona trees, flooded in the light of the season. The darkest day of winter was anything but when lit by kindness, kindled by friendship, and illuminated by community–the light of one flame brought together with and by the light of many.