Spend time in the garden this time of year. Watch the return of the sun, listen; the neighborhood children are playing, birds calling, the wind rustles, and bees hum. Let the warmth and delightful sights and sounds nourish your spirit and soul. The winter solstice brings the return of the sun.
Gardeners tend to spend a lot of time outside in their gardens. This is a good thing for the garden. Most need regular care to look good and perform as the gardener expects. A daily walk, besides the exercise, can be an inspection to look for problems, new visits from wildlife, and those areas of the garden that beg for a moment of your time for care or communion.
Working in the garden is also a good thing for the gardener. Gardening is good exercise and relieves stress and tension. An hour on the treadmill is torture, but an hour of digging in the sand or pulling weeds works muscles and renews the spirit.
Having regularly spent a lot of time outside, I have always found the annual shortening of the days followed by the sun’s return during December awe-inspiring. I am amazed that soon after the shortest day of the year or solstice, around December 22, the days begin to lengthen, and by December 25, the sun has noticeably returned. Sun is a good thing for gardeners.
The return of the sun has long been thought to be part of the origins of many winter celebrations. For northern Europeans shivering in the cold as the sun appeared less and less in the sky, the return of light and warmth was indeed something to celebrate. The Romans who conquered the Celts brought their solstice festival Saturnalia that they celebrated by feasting and goodwill.
As Christianity spread, the local traditions and celebrations were often incorporated into church observations. In the year 350, Pope Julius I made the birth of Jesus a holiday, choosing December 25 as the date of celebration. The advent of the sun became the birth of the son.
The season’s bustle often leaves us with little time for ourselves. This busy time of the year when giving and receiving gifts is part of the festivities, it’s good to spend some time outside enjoying the gift of the sun’s return to fuel plant growth and warm us with the light to inspire internal peace.
Your garden, whether it is a collection of pots on a porch, the patch of green you pass on your afternoon walk, a small yard, or many acres out the back door, is a refuge. Take the time to get outside, touch a leaf, lean on a tree, smell the flowers, listen to the birds, and feel the gift of life-giving power that only waits for you to notice. The winter solstice brings the return of the sun and a promise of light and new beginnings in the new year.
This article first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.