December 20-21 marks the time of the Solstice–the shortest or longest day of the year, depending on which hemisphere you’re in. Here in the high desert of New Mexico, our short, sunny days are punctuated by long, cold nights. Snow caps the mountains at the higher elevations, and the dogs and I are enjoying winter hikes in the stately ponderosa pine forests.
I find this time of year in the northern hemisphere to be one of deep contemplation, stillness, and quiet. In my reflections this year, I’m filled with immense gratitude for all of the gifts of my life, for the precious beauty of our Earth and all she holds, and also a sense of deep grief about the tremendous suffering and pain in our world. Suffering is a part of life, as many spiritual traditions remind us, and if we can hold our own suffering, we can also hold and be present to the suffering of others.
My heart breaks daily with the news of violence, war, the suffering of displaced people, poverty, species loss, and environmental destruction, and I find that in these moments, my spiritual practices of meditation, prayer, and stillness sustain me. I believe that our personal spiritual practices have an impact beyond our own lives…an impact that we may never fully be aware of or appreciate…an impact that is based on the fundamental truth that we are each a part of the whole, and that what affects one of us affects all of us.
Many years ago, in the stillness of winter, I recorded a CD at a beautiful monastery on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Michigan. The CD is no longer in print, but it was a collection of solo piano music with a contemplative and devotional focus. The monks who orchestrated this recording project believed that spirituality and music were inseparably connected, and making this recording on a beautiful vintage concert grand piano, with the support of the monastic community, surrounded by the stillness of winter in the far north, was one of the highlights of my life as a classical musician.
Music is the language in which I can express much that is inexpressible in words…and so, as a Solstice gift to you, here are two tracks from the CD:
I wish you and your families a blessed holiday season, whatever your traditions. I’m grateful for each of you, for your support of this work, and for the deep calling of your hearts to connection and communion with the spirit in all life.
Lovingkindness (Metta) Prayer
May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.