In a very small town in the smallest state of the country, there is a tradition among my close friends and our families to celebrate the winter solstice. We voyage across the country and across the street to circle around a bonfire during one of the busiest weeks of the year. Add in a powerful gong ceremony performed by a talented local friend and her words to remind us of the untethered connection and symbolism between nature and our lives; the winter solstice is the longest night of the year and it marks the lengthening of lightness in the days leading us to summer.
Past ceremonies asked that we toss a stick into the fire representing something that no longer serves us, and then another to wish something into our lives for the upcoming year. This year, in response to some of the uncategorized and disheartening happenings of 2016, we altered our performance. We reflected on our heavy year and focused on something that we loved about it. How can we incorporate those pieces of ourselves and our lives that we love? How can we cultivate more of that this year?
I thought about my whirlwind year: spending four months in South America, conquering my fear of singing at open mics, volunteering with my state’s chapter of Women March on Washington and my upcoming plans to move to San Diego (stay tuned for cross-country posts!!). With a whole lot of smiling and maybe even a tear, I wished for myself to continue following my intuition and desires despite unconventionality or others misunderstanding. My deepened relationship with my heart and intuition is after all, what I love most about myself- and if you know me, you may know my heart lives on my sleeve.
Perhaps for that reason, one of the many devoted mama bears and hostess of the annual celebration of light and dark, Mama Pilk, asked me to write something this year. At the conclusion of my poem, our gong spiritual leader voiced,
“You can only see the stars when it’s dark out.”
“Or when you choose to look up,” said Mama Pilk. And our circle squeezed together just a little tighter.
Olivia Morrissey, Dec. 2016
I am 23.
Life has hurt me and it has scared me
It has graced me and humbled me.
Just as it has you all.
I’ve had the privilege of seeing bits of the world and I have grown up encompassed in endless love.
And this is what I’ve learned:
That happiness is gratitude and it’s about all you have than what you can’t see
And that love is the common tongue trans-culture universally
That it is so much more about who you’re with instead of where
And that peace comes from celebrating our differences rather than what is shared.
I’ve learned that true hope is not never having felt the darkness;
It is having been immersed in it and still choosing to see the light.
And strength is not being devoid of weakness;
It is how we accept our weaknesses and hold them equally tight.
I’ve learned that sometimes, things must hit rock bottom.
They must get to the lowest of the low; the darkest of hours
In order for them rise to lightness once again:
The winter solstice; karmic powers.
I feel a shift and a transformation
I find solace realizing the reason I’m here right now
To stand for the beautifully diverse people of my nation
It is why we’ve all found ourselves here; under the stars at this time
It is your call and truth to right now
As it is mine.
And it is often not what we’re dealt, but how we choose to react that makes all the difference.
So let us choose not what’s easy, but rather what’s right.
Let us choose hope. Let us choose strength. Let us choose each other. Let us choose love.
And let us choose light.