I'm planning to join a very special gathering tomorrow to celebrate the Winter Solstice (for the northern hemisphere). The shortest day of the year has been celebrated for thousands of years as the point of deepest darkness from which the days begin to lengthen again and we are blessed by more light. As the Earth rotates around the sun the next stage of this cycle culminates in the longest day, the Summer Solstice, after which the retreat of light begins again.And so the cycle continues. Its an annual event often unmarked in our busy modern lives but this year is very different! Many believe that this is the date that marks the end of the Mayan calendar and so the end of the world - you've probably seen some of the hype generated by this possibility.
An apocalyptic ending seems unlikely to me but I do invest a real significance in this date. For not only the Mayans, but many other indigenous peoples of the Americas, north and south, have foreseen an ending in this period. Fortunately, as the cycle of the seasons and the solstices tells us, each ending is followed by a new beginning, so my excitement about the solstice, the 2012 moment and the end of the world is really about the new era which is being brought in in these days.
A new era is due, and very much needed, as we can see from our current predicament. At this point of deep darkness the human family is growing fast and deeply divided. We are divided by national border, religious intolerance, an obscene disparity in wealth and opportunity, and increasingly, by the fight for scarce natural resources. We have poisoned, exploited and denuded our planet home to such and extent that her ability to provide us with food and shelter and to absorb our waste is reduced even as the needs of now 7 billion people test her generosity and giving capacity. And amidst this we have replaced the fundamental truths that have supported us for thousands of years with new beliefs dressed up in the beguiling appearance of modern consumerism; the end result is a narrow focus of self-interest, reduced responsibility for the wellbeing of the whole and an accompanying inner sense of resignation and apathy. It seems we are all now caught in this trap, locked inside a crazy and destructive dream but unable to extract ourselves from it to create anew. That's why I say, "Bring on a new era".
So here we are, driving a huge distance across California, Arizona into New Mexico to join a ceremony to mark the solstice because at this juncture in history, this day marks not merely a point in the annual cycle, but maybe, just maybe, a significant moment of cosmological shift in which the light can begin to increase again in the experiment in life that is underway on Planet Earth. The ceremony will be particularly potent, lead by a man deeply rooted in the ways of indigenous people in both north and south America, the wisdom he carries tells us we can reciprocate the energy provided by pachamama, mother Earth/father Sky. In this wisdom our role includes giving thanks, prayers, offerings back to the mother, because we humans have a role to play in regenerating life on a planetry and cosmic scale; we have a role to play bringing in a shift.
In this wisdom those of us who can hear the call of a new era, or the cry of pain from the old era, are the very people who have a responsibility to act. Others are asleep inside that alluring dream of modernity, and can be awakened in time, just as the seeds underground can be activated by the light and warmth of spring, but right now, if you can hear the call its time to play a role, or to extend the role you are already playing.
Its time to summon our courage, to muster our will-power and break out of the patterns of the old era, patterns that keep us separate from each other and separate from our mother, the Earth. The entire intelligence of the cosmos is at work right here and now, asking us to play a part in bringing more light to the planet, for the benefit of all life. It's time to consider re-dedicating ourselves to the practices we have learned that allow us to fulfill our destiny as co-creators of a loving and nurturing universe, to find new ways or strengthen existing ways in which we bring love, peace and new possibilities into the lives of the other people whose lives we touch. It's time to connect more deeply and more often with Mother Earth, to appreciate and thank her for her life-giving role. It's time to bring on a new era.