Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness. ~Anne Frank
The early mornings are dark now, the light is late to arrive. It is the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, the solstice that marks the turn to longer days of light. (The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “sun stands still”) Humans have long celebrated that moment as we turn from dark to light by lighting candles, burning logs, bringing evergreens into our homes, reminding ourselves that the days will grow longer.
A few years ago, I took a class in creating mandalas, a circle that encloses the expression of our inner selves. The circle is an ancient symbol – the circle of life, the circle of a wedding ring, the circle of councils and celebrations. Some of the mandalas we created in that class were ephemeral, fashioned from found objects in nature. This one of ferns and moss reminds me of a Christmas wreath.
At some point during the course, as I set the point of the drafting compass to paper, I suddenly realized that I had created my lower garden as a mandala without realizing it. I had found the center point of the garden plot and pounded a stake into it, tied a rope to it and let it guide me as I walked in concentric circles around it, creating planting beds and paths by dragging a hoe on the ground through the loose dirt.
Walking these circular paths in the garden in any season is like tracing the steps of a labyrinth and always puts me in harmony with the natural world.
My favorite drawing on paper, however, expresses my love for the earth and my hope for peace and light for the world. Ironically, I discovered that when drawing the wings, the light was made more powerful by drawing shadows for contrast and depth. And so life goes, shadow and light, circles and seasons, sorrows and joys, through the great round of life. On this day and in this season, my wish for each of you is that the light grows brighter both in your world and in your heart, from the inside to the outside and back again.
In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. ~ John Burroughs
All text and images ©2018 Lynn Emberg Purse except where noted.
Here’s a musical view of the winter solstice.
I didn’t know you’re so adept at drawing. Perhaps you should show us more.
After having now read the text that introduces your symbolic rendering of the earth I can see the wings, but when my glance first alighted on the drawing I saw a pleasant abstract pattern in that area.
A productive and satisfying 2019 to you.
Thank you, Steve; I have been considering introducing some of my sketches. I’ve been studying botanical drawing, so that may eventually find its way onto these pages. Given your amazing photographic eye for pattern and color, it doesn’t surprise me that you saw an abstract pattern.
I wish you the very best of 2019 to come!
Yes, we’ve got to have the shadows to appreciate the light…such beautiful musings, Lynn, thank you. It’s wonderful to see the artwork you made and to read about the connections you found. Then I listened – and watched – the winter solstice song and I’m overcome with your finely honed capabilities in all the Venusian pursuits. I bet you serve fabulous meals, too! 🙂 A through-and-through sensualist, you are. May you have a New Year that delights all five senses, and nourishes the spirit.
Ah, Lynn, you are so astute – thank you for your comments. Yes, I just served 20 to a delicious Christmas dinner, and it is all part of the “balance, beauty, harmony” part of my skies, of which the garden is an extension. I wish you the same blessings for the New Year, my friend.
Your circle garden is an inspiration. I am glad we are again in the season of lengthening days. Happy solstice to you!
Thank you, Jason. Happy solstice to you as well!
Your garden absolutely sparkles in winter. How perfectly you have planned it for beauty in all seasons!
Thank you, Audrey – having the pattern on the ground and lots of woody plants does make for some pretty winter scenes. I love it here every day of the year. Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
Your garden is an inspiration, no matter what the season is!
Thank you, Margy – Merry Christmas!
Lovely images, and the fern mandala is superb. C of the S!
Thank you, colonialist – I loved creating the fern mandala. It lasted only a few days but was preserved forever by the camera.
Bless photography and digital storage!
Such a lovely post Lynn and I love your circle garden and beautiful artwork. I am no artist, but appreciate the creativity in others. Sending good wishes to you for a wonderful 2019.
Jude, I think you are an artist with camera and words; thank you for your kind comments. I wish you a wonderful coming year full of beauty and color!
You have a lovely woodland garden for all seasons. Thank you for sharing it. Very best wishes for Christmas and the coming year.
Thank you, Richard, and I wish you a lovely Christmas as well. The woods never fail to surprise me with their rich textures and shapes – even on the darkest day, they offer beauty to the eye.
Great post, Lynn; thanks for sharing it with us.
Thank you, my friend who chases the light and always captures it so beautifully. Have a wonderful holiday!
I woke up to a bright full moon this morning, and so your circles post seems very apt! The layout of your garden is inspired (or rather instinctive – I have no talent for this, and really admire it in others!). Thank you for bringing this meditation to me deep midwinter!
Ali, the moon is hiding behind clouds here but hopefully will emerge tomorrow – it is supposed to be a spectacular Christmas moon! Thank you for reading and commenting; I always find inspiration in your garden posts.
This was personal, intelligent and tender all at once–thank you for sharing it all. The art is lovely; the circling ferns and moss–yes to that…I just posted on the subject light and this season in “Properties of Light.”
Cynthia, I loved your essay on light and all of its properties – so worth reading! Thank you for stopping by here and leaving such a kind and encouraging comment. Have a beautiful light-filled holiday 🙂
Warm regards and merry wishes
Thank you for this lovely meditation, Lynn. Your words, photographs, and artwork are beautiful, and this was a wonderful piece to lead us into our Solstice night, and, tomorrow, the Full Cold Moon.
Kitty, so so good to hear your voice here. The mandala art class I took left a lasting impression on me; I’m now taking botanical art classes to keep my skills up and to take a closer look at the plants in my garden. Yes, the full moon is coming, isn’t it?
I hope that the circle of time will bring you a 2019 that lives up to your hopes.
Thank you, tootlepedal – I wish the same for you!