“This Turning Year”

Winter Light at 7:39 AM, EST, December 21, 2017

Pretty sure I learned about the winter solstice from a textbook—in sixth grade, maybe. Dimly I can conjure up the rudimentary, line-drawing illustration that accompanied the text. I’m betting “solstice” had been on that week’s spelling test, too. Sound familiar?

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if Mr. Phelps, our natty, bowtied, horn-rimmed glasses science teacher, had exclaimed: “Think about it, boys and girls,” his voice rising in excitement.* “Our shared ancestors knew about the winter solstice because they noticed it! They noted, they studied, they watched the world around them, the seasons, the weather, the night sky. They figured out a way to keep track of what they’d observed. Think about it!”

Here’s what most moves me about this simple, elegant fact about those ancient souls: That we’ll never know who first figured out this “turning year” phenomena. But I’m guessing the cumulative observations leading to our understanding were collaborative, communal; I’m guessing women and children participated in that ancient data collection.

And, today, right now, December 21, 2017,  it brings me to tears to be reminded that our greedy, selfish, warring species can also be curious. Such a simple yet wondrous quality of being human. Yes.

A Winter Blessing
By Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker

In the shadowed quiet of winter’s light
earth speaks softly
of her longing.
Because the wild places are in tears.

Come, she cries to us.
Kneel down here
on the frosty grass,
and feel the prayer buried in the ground.

Bend your ear to my heart
and listen hard.

Love this world, she whispers.
Distill peace from the snow
and water the cities
with mercy.

Weave wonder from the forest
and clothe grief
with beauty.

Rest in the rhythm of the turning year,
Trace the bending arc
Rounding the curve toward justice.
And vow anew to do no harm.

The winter trees stand watch
haloed in the last gleams of the slanting sun.
Glory sings here.
Heaven echoes the call:
Repeat the sounding joy.

Make your life an answer:

*For all his bowtie primness, Mr. Phelps was, on occasion, passionate. His marveling that the Russians had launched Sputnik was both unexpectedly adorable and illustrative; that my Cold War-era teacher had been so gaga about this historic event taught me something fundamental about science.

Join the Conversation


  1. Dear Patricia,

    Well, hi, there, Patricia, and greetings and salutations to you and to you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very awesomely precious and dearly special soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker woman who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much!!!! WOW, sister, WOW!!!! I’ve had such great and rich food for Christmas that I’m having trouble staying asleep since my tummy feels uncomfortably full-I’m not as used to eating such sumptuous feasts, my so, so very dear friend!!!!! Sistah, I pray, wish, and hope for you and for you AND FOR VERY ESPECIALLY YOU AND YOURS like with your so very beloved husband, your so, so very darling Loved One in the long-term care facility, for your amazing children, for you precious grandchildren, for your awesome siblings, for the rest of your wonderful family, for your so, so very cool in spirit and Spirit yoga friends, for all of your other great friends, and for your blessedly holy and pure in heart friendsfamily at your blessed Friends Meeting at Cambridge A Very, Very Happy Blessed Special Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays to one and all!!!!!!! I love you all so, so very much and just cherish you all just as I so love and cherish very, very much all of my sisters and brothers as our SO, SO VERY SWEET, EMPOWERING, and LOVING SPIRIT’s darling children!!!!!! I pray for and think of each and every one of you everywhere daily and very frequently being my so, so very dearest sisters and brothers and God’s sweet children with all people everywhere, sistah!!!!! Praying without ceasing and thinking of each and every one of you are my very joys, honors, blessings, and pleasures, and such awesomely great fun for me as well!!!! I count each and every one of you and all of Jesus’s precious children as my life and eternal blessings being so full of such endearing and strong appreciation with such gratitude for all of you and all of God’s people giving thanks continually to Spirit for each and every one of you and our Good God’s children and I just so, so very much love and cherish each and every one of you everywhere with all of you and other of my heart sisters and brothers and Spirit’s children!!!!! 🙂 <3 I can just feel all of your very lovingly heartfelt and sensitively caring thoughts and prayers for me-I thank-YOU all so, so much!!!!!! 🙂 <3 All of your deeply sincerely thoughts and prayers for me are truly helping me and I can for sure could use all of your very steadfast and loving, caring thoughts and prayers for me and I sure do need them-each and every one of you are helping me so, so very much!!!!! I can just feel all of your love and your very prayers and thoughts for me!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Sistahfriend, what a very inspirational article here about the beauty and soothing comfort of the winter solstice. I, too, always celebrate the solstices and so do some of my other wonderful sistahfriends!!!!! I was so, so very excited on Thursday last week on December 21, 2017 when winter very smoothly came in. WOW, sister, WOW!!! Patricia, I love your very thoughtful and interesting reflection here about your very enthusiastic science teacher back then, Mr. Phelps!!!!! WOW, his very excitement IS very much indeed as you so wisely say very unexpectedly adorable and illustrative. WOW, I can just see and envision in my greatly strong imagination how exciting it was with the Sputnik going into space and even with Americans disappointment that we didn't do so first I can just tell what exhilaration there was for very many folks with this very unprecedented and awe-inspiring achievement. WOW, sister, WOW!!!!! Sisterfriend, WOW, I thank-YOU for how you've once again as usual as always featured and included such an interesting, fascinating, and informative link here regarding the history of that profound era for us as Americans with the launch of Sputnik and how the astounding United States wanted to amp up our efforts to be even more competitive and timely in the Space Race. WOW, what a very educational article here which provides such a very fine and excellent discussion of the very backdrop of all of the goings on and happenings during that time period, my so, so very dearest and darling, precious friend. Sister, I love how you share and declare here how you see in your very mind's eye how women and children back in the day with the cumulative observations leading to collaborative understanding in a cooperative communal way with brilliant women and children adding to the very effort with the ancient data collection on the solstice. WOW, I can as well just somehow see in my very imagination Mr. Phelps with his keen interest and enthusiasm regarding the solstice. What great teaching there was for sure there and very outstanding education, Patricia!!!!!! It is just wonderful that somehow someway the "turning year" phenomena came about, my friend!!!!! And I bet, too, that that very glorious word, solstice, WAS very much indeed on the spelling test that week!!!!! 🙂 Sistah, i, too, am so, so very touched in my very heart and spirit with how despite it all with the greed, selfishness, warring aspects of much of humankind that we all can still have that grandly great and sweet, child-like wonder and curiosity, Patricia!!!! WOW, Patricia, what sharply astute and acute insight here by absolutely AWESOME YOU, Patricia!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, Patricia what a very fitting contribution here by absolutely FANTASTIC YOU with the very blessedly so chock full of such wisdom poem by our deeply spiritual with such profound poignancy Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker!!!!! WOW, what a powerful poem here which keys into our very heart of hearts and spirits and with such eloquent, lovely, beautiful words here full of such depth and meaning!!!!! WOW!!!!!! I LOVE this, Patricia!!!!!

    Sistahfriend, what a very emboldening and interesting blog post article here which is such a sheer joy and blessing to read and to respond to with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments!!!!! WOW, Patricia, WOW!!!!!! At this time of Christmas and of our awesome New Year I reflect on all of my very blessings as I do everyday anyway!!!!!! I thank Spirit for being our SO, SO VERY SWEET SPIRIT who just so loves and cherishes infinitely ME and YOU and each and every one of us being EVER SO FAITHFUL!!!!!!! 🙂 <3I just so, so very much love and cherish our GOOD GOD so, so very much and just love our SWEET JESUS as we celebrate Jesus's observed birthday at this time and FOR ALWAYS!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistahfriend, YOU are my very life and eternal blessings, Patricia, and I just thank-YOU and Spirit continually for YOU and FOR YOUR VERY PRESENCE IN MY LIFE!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Your very brilliant and masterfully composed blog post articles, other very encouraging writings and books, and all you do so, so very well in such a very fine and excellent fashion doing your absolutely very best in such a diligently conscientious manner are such overflowing bountiful blessings for me and for very many other people, too, with each and every one of us so, so very much loving and cherishing YOU as we all know that you love and cherish us right back at us so, so very much!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sisterfriend, I'm just so, so very filled over the brim with such overflowing abundant blessing with YOU, my dear, dearest, precious Patricia, and with my so, so very, very many other soul sistahfriends, so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful white women just so loving and cherishing each and every one of you with you all being my very, very heart!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I care for and about each and every one of you as such super white women in thinking so, so very highly of all of you truly feeling, thinking, and believing that each of you are such good people being so, so very goodhearted, goodnatured, and openhearted with such a keenly sweet, endearing, and engaging openheartedness, so, so very sweet, loving, gentle, patient, nice, kind, caring, sensitive, nurturing, friendly with such an open heart and an open mind with such abiding and enduring openmindedness and such wonderful people being the very greatest and the best and the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness!!!!! 🙂 <3 You all as such precious and absolutely AWESOME white women are my by very, very far my very favorites among white people and also by very, very far my very favorites among all people in general!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Patricia, YOU and other SUPERB white women are my very life and eternal blessings my so, so very dearest and darling sistah and friend, and I so appreciate each and every one of you and value you all full of such gratitude to all of you as such so, so very right on, wondrously wonderful white women!!!!! 🙂 <3 I'm just so, so very incredibly blessed and grateful so chock full of such appreciation for my beloved and blessed church here where I live in my Iowa City, Iowa called Faith United Church Of Christ. I've bee a member there since the 1990s and I'm a rejoicing and proud, out and open Christian lesbian woman there and elsewhere in my life!!!!! 🙂 <3 I just so, so very much love my very empowering and terrific sisters and brothers at my Faith and I just so, so very much love and cherish them all as my life and eternal blessings as my remarkable church friendsfamily!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I'm so, so very blessed and grateful for with such strong appreciation for all of my very, very many, multiple 12-Step Programs with all of my ardent and strong recoveries in all of my 12-Step Programs like with being a rejoicing and proud, recovering alcoholic and addict being clean and sober in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous since Sunday, August 5, 1990!!!!! 🙂 <3 I just love and cherish my wonderful friends from the very learning and beneficial, healing meetings, and all of my other so, so very dear friends everywhere both near and far!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 I'm just so, so very incredibly blessed and eternally grateful full of such appreciation in showing my deep gratitude for all of my sisters and brothers everywhere as our SO, SO VERY DEARFEST AND DARLING SPIRIT'S CHILDREN!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sistahfriend, I have so, so very many innumerable blessings which I'm appreciative of full of such gratitude and praises that I could go on and on, Patricia!!!!!! 🙂 <3

    Sistah, as I look forward to the new year with such faith, hope and bursting, delightfully eager anticipation I see such great good coming with my eternal positive optimism!!!!! Patricia, I've grown, learned, and healed very much this year from your very powerful Christian witness and I've not only become a better human being, woman, and Christian because of you this year which is now waning but also in the nearly four years in which I've been writing to you and your blog, emailing you, and corresponding in the snail mail I've become even stronger and blessed with such spiritual attunement and discernment being more blessed, healed, learning, and recovering!!!!!! 🙂 <3 YOU have been so, so very patient with me and my very voluminous sharings over all of these nearly four years and I've just grown by such leaps and bounds, Patricia!!!!! 🙂 <3 WOW, I thank-YOU so, so much, sistahfriend!!!!! 🙂 <3 Now I feel even better and brighter with greatly added sheer from the immense joys and blessings of reading this beautiful, absolutely beautiful blog post article and very joyously responding with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments, Patricia!!!!! 🙂 <3 It is my very joy, honor, blessing, and pleasure to do so, and such great fun for me, too!!!!!!! 🙂 <3 Sister, please by the time you read this it'll be Tuesday have such a totally thrilling and terrific Tuesday, a wondrously wonderful rest of your week and weekend, and may all of your very days be so, so very especially blessed, Patricia!!!!! Jesus so, so very much loves and cherishes YOU, Patricia, and SO DO I A WHOLE LOT AND A WHOLE BUNCH, TOO!!!!!! 🙂 3

    Very Warmly and Sincerely FOR ALWAYS, my so, so very FOR ALWAYS awesomely special and dearly precious soul sistahfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re FOR ALWAYS so, so very much, Patricia, sisterfriend of mine, with My and Jesus’s Very Peace and Love FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, friend of mine, AND with SUCH BLESSINGS AND SUCH VERY EVEN MORE BLESSINGS FOR YOU FOR ALWAYS, sister of mine,

    YOURS FOR ALWAYS soul sistahfriend Christian black woman AND FOR ALWAYS in the very great spirit of unity and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.