Fast Wisdom™, Newsletter of Holden Healing Studio
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December 2018

By Lonner Holden

A Solstice Sojourner's Log: Peering into Darkness

Note: The bottom of the shallow bowl of the year’s ten darkest days is nearly flat, as the number of daylight minutes remain equal before the days begin to lengthen. 

December, 2018

I drive north to Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula to spend the holiday with my two adult daughters and their partners.


19th: Departing

I drive out of the San Francisco Bay Area after the sun sets. Clear sky. Stars. Planets. The Interstate north is nearly empty. Distant lights of homes and farms glow through the darkness. They share a sense of safety and of orientation to others. The darkness is huge, the lights intermittent as stars, but much warmer. As I pass the moon-washed, snow-quilted monolith of Mount Shasta, its presence follows me for miles. I feel watched by a dispassionate witness immensely larger than me. This brings me to attention, yet am not afraid. I make Ashland, Oregon just after midnight to spend the night at an old friend’s. The light of their smile and warmth of their welcome calms the road buzz and allows me to finally sleep.


20th: Morning Tracks

On an early morning walk together, we see fresh Mountain Lion tracks in trail mud.  The long shadows of the low sun reveal nuances in the tracks, tuning me to the disposition of the animal so I can “feel” it more. A big, relaxed cat walking in the dark with night-eyes that can see where I cannot. What would my life be like if I had nocturnal eyes that could see through all the darkness in my, and in others lives? I drive north through dark skies and driving rain. Arriving at another friend’s house on the coast of Washington, we stay up late visiting. The clouds clear and a near-full moon reflects in a million puddles and from droplets clinging to branches. Cold and magical, the darkness ironically sustains a joyful feeling of hope.

21st: Winter Solstice Day

After a hearty morning visit, I head north again. As I take to the highway, long shadows invite me into a Solstice reflection: What is the longest shadow in my life right now? What and who shines into it? At 2:23 pm - the moment of the year’s solar nadir, my attentions are far from Solstice reflections - having taken a wrong turn in unfamiliar territory, rather than driving around it, I now find myself stuck in urban traffic. Road weary and hours later than planned, I finally arrive at my older daughter’s home. The ebullient welcome of her and her dogs rapidly erases the darkness in my mood. 


22nd: Sleep and Dreams

Finally awaking I peek at my watch and see it is late morning. Sleeping in after a long drive is sweet, but the dreams were many and all vivid - some of them disturbing. Sometimes the message is shrouded in shadows, like a candle flame grasped by stone.  Canine smiles and wagging tails bluster through the door. So much for quiet dream meditations! 


23rd: Timelessness

Today there is no schedule nor destination. Rain pelts the windows; on a walk, the dogs get tangled in their leashes; wet wood and damp matches refuse to cooperate in the fireplace; dishes get washed whenever they do; the grocery store mob is an education in human nature; I learn to lose gracefully at Backgammon; small jars of the first honey from my daughter’s bee hive glow amber in the kitchen light; I admire the care and depth she has decorated her classroom with at her first high school teaching post; we talk history, politics, friends and family, and of her sister’s upcoming wedding. The slow dance of the day is luminous as if lit by the ambient light of wandering a calm and safe labyrinth. Finally the fire becomes reliable and the evening is warmed by an orange glow flashing in a stone frame.


24th: Christmas Eve

My younger daughter and her fiancee’ arrive with their dog and lots more food for a family feast. The three dogs clash joyfully. Candles illuminate faces and cast shadows of dogs begging at the table’s edge. Humor punctuates the night. Someone skunks the rest of us in a new game. Today, the fireplace woes of yesterday have been anticipated and resolved. Light and warmth abound.


25th: Gift Giving

The lit tree rises from a colorful boulder-pile of gifts. Now at my younger daughter and her fiancee’s home, we all gather for a gift-giving celebration. The Love Bird in his cage punctuates the air with his sharp chirps, the chatter of human voices counterpoints to the sounds of dog claws clacking on the wood floor. After the others leave, my younger daughter takes me on an evening dog walk, sharing with me the rewards and joys of her new job. Sometimes what is brightest is heard, not seen.


26th: Sacred Waters

On my return home, I stop at the Shasta City Park. The huge natural spring here has been running full for millennia, a constant source of water for the First Peoples of the region, the town, and is considered the headwaters of the Sacramento River. It is late. The sky is clear. I plunge a water bottle into the cold water. This rare water has spent fifty years being purified inside Mount Shasta before being released to the open air. I turn off my headlamp, listen to the chortling of the water as it bursts out of the hillside. The sound is the voice of this place. The water is highlighted with starlight. Distant eyes of a dark sky shining in dark waters. A marriage of wonders. A lesson in how to see with one’s ears and hear with one’s eyes. An invitation into being at peace in darkness.


27th: Wildlife Refuge

I awaken from a restless slumber at a highway rest area while it is still dark. Driving on slick, muddy tracks, I park along a marsh, waiting for the dawn. I open my van door and spook five hundred Snow Geese. They take flight - a storm of ghost feathers against a black sky. Dawn sneaks into view. Wild flames grasp clouds, steep the sky in color. Coots are everywhere, their white-tipped beaks dotting purple waters. A frigid breeze bends reeds and curls the water’s face. The Sun breaks the horizon, floods the landscape with its fire. Geese and ducks and waterfowl are everywhere. White, grey and black clouds of birds take to the air and land again. Eagles and hawks and falcons roam freely among the trees. I feel light-filled by this primeval chorus; song-awakened by the movement.


Arriving home, the house is quiet, bright, inviting, as if awaiting to hear of my journey. I feel the silence, allow the road buzz to fade and light a candle in the daytime. It’s not about how much light there is, but how much darkness we allow ourselves to belong to. Peace may mean nothing more than that.


PICK OF THE MONTH: The Origins of Gratitude in San Bushmen culture: The Origins Project
Lonner Holden:
Being a Jin Shin Jyutsu acupressure practitioner for 27 years has helped me understand the healing potential of the body and the whole person.  A published poet and backcountry guide educated from early life by the natural elements and animals of the Alaskan wilderness, and with Animal Track & Sign certification, my knowledge of dance, trail running, yoga, meditation, body awareness disciplines and indigenous nature connection practices, I bring poetry, nature mentoring and a lifetime of nature awareness to Vive!  Nature Wander™ urban and wilderness treks to enhance awareness, creativity, vitality, health and well-being.


VIVE!  Nature Wander™
Marin County: January 12th

Marin Tracking Club:
Point Reyes: January 27th

Sun Valley Tracking Circle:
San Rafael: Next Meeting TBD

Into the Wild Journeys:
Grand Canyon 2019


See events on calendar »




Fast Wisdom™ is the newsletter of my Holden Healing Studio practice.  Each issue explores a theme of living  in the context of healing so you can live a happier and more vital life infused with well-being, improved health and more effective and empowered recovery.

© 2018 Lonner Holden
Fast Wisdom™
Copyright © 2018 Holden Healing Studio, All rights reserved.

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