Longest Night of the Year 4

Years ago when the children were little, we bundled them up against the cold and rode our bicycles to the banks of the Thames.    It was the darkest, longest night of the year.  We brought hot chocolate, brandy, candles.   I wrote a poem for the occasion. 

We stood in a circle, the river rushing below.    In their shining, fresh innocence the children were completely present and sincere.    If we believed, so did they.   We lit a candle as each read his or her verse; our own private stage, actor and audience,  creators of our own moment.

Then we laughed and cheered and poured the warm, sweet chocolate and the warming brandy.    We rode our bikes home, decorated the little box of hope and formulated our sincere intentions. 

Solstice Sunset

That evening turned out to be the first of twenty-three annual gatherings.

Preparing for Solstice 2019, I prowled a dusty attic and found the original poem.   Last night we gathered as we have all these years, no hoopla, no gifts, just a moment for presence.   We lit the candles and opened the small boxes, now brimming with two decades of intentions.   We read our verses, found silence and then scribbled intently.

When the children were small they blew magic on their wishes before they whooshed them out into the Universe.    Today we are adults.    Perhaps we sigh as we lay down our pens.

But we still solemnly send out our dreams.



Evening Poem for the Winter Solstice


It is the longest night of the year.

For six months our sun has moved away from the earth.

In the darkness of winter,

I light my candle for hope. 


It is the longest night of the year.

Tomorrow our sun begins its return journey toward the earth.

In the darkness of winter,

I light my candle for joy.


It is the longest night of the year.

While our sun travels home, I think of Mommy and Daddy, Genevieve and Julien.

In the darkness of winter,

I light my candle for love.


The earth sleeps while we wait for the sun to bring back our light.

In this darkness, in any darkness,

     we will remember a time of love.

We will remember each other and tonight. 


It is the longest night of the year.

We are without our sun, but not without light.

We make our own light by our hope, our joy, and our love.

In the darkness of winter,

I light my candle for you.


21 December 1997


The Thames


Mary Bruton Sandifer

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4 thoughts on “Longest Night of the Year

  • Mary Borba

    As I read this, it made me realize that while we focus so much on what is wrong with our world, what is really important is hope, love and joy. May we all find them in 2020. Please keep sharing your wonderful messages–I so enjoy reading them.

  • Vicky

    This has brought tears to my eyes – it’s so beautiful. Thank you Mary.
    You told me once to “hold on”, and I scribbled that down on a little slip of paper and tucked it into the frame of the mirror on my desk. It continues to bring me strength so often. Words on little slips of paper, how precious they are.
    Joyeux Noel from deepest Devon!
    I love your posts too!