Not Seen in 800 Years and I Missed It!
The great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn was due to occur for the first time in over eight-hundred years the evening of the Winter Solstice. It was touted as the Star of Bethlehem–an aligning of the planets that may have accounted for the star seen shining over Christ’s birthplace. True or not, if you believe in the Bethlehem Star or not, it was something to see because chances are, you won’t be around the next time these planets line up.
I looked. I didn’t see it. I could barely make out the moon that night because of the heavy cloud cover. I stood outside my barn in the cold that evening and looked and hoped to catch a glimpse. Was that it?! No, it was moving too fast. Figures, during this fetid pustule of a year, we would miss it.
Winter is Coming!
I’d wager most horse people dislike winter. With it comes the frozen ice buckets, the mud, the filthy winter blankets, and frozen, slippery footing. One night as I trudged in from the barn, my fingers red and frozen, my boots encrusted in muddy slush, I shucked off my barn coat and declared I was sick of winter already! My husband scoffed, “It’s not even officially winter yet!” How was I going to survive another three months? He was right. Winter officially begins December 21st and this was well before then. You know the expression ‘My heart sank’? Well, that’s what it felt like. Despair over the thought of the endless stretch of dark, cold, and now extremely isolated days ahead.
Hitting Bottom Means You’re on the Way Up
The pandemic has changed the world. In different ways for different people but I think what we have all experienced in common is isolation. Our celebrations, our parties, our memorial events–joyful and sad–have all been canceled. We are forced to process life alone. Humans are not designed to live in such long periods of isolation. When the winter hit, I was deprived of some of the things that made my life tolerable up until this point: working in the yard outside, riding my horse, dining at outdoor venues when safe… a few simple things that brought joy. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful and feel blessed that I have food, income, shelter, and health (so far) through all of this, but humans being what they are, may still indulge in a few complaints from time to time. Then a thought occurred to me.
Is This the Pandemic’s Winter Solstice?
The Winter Solstice means we have hit rock bottom. We have seen the shortest day and now we are climbing out of darkness. Through the tough, cold months ahead, we can celebrate that light is coming back into the world. We are climbing up and out. So have we hit the winter solstice of the pandemic? Can we also think of it like the solstice? We have two new vaccines approved for emergency use, yet projections say we are going to go through some of the worse case numbers in the next month. It certainly seems as though we have hit rock bottom with hospitals at capacity and infection rates escalating, but at the same, is it reasonable to cling to a glimmer of hope? That the vaccine will change the trajectory and we will spin to face the light? We have to face some of the toughest months ahead, but we are climbing out. We have to hold on to that hope.