This morning, my husband Al and I were walking home after group meditation around 7:15 a.m. The sun was just coming up at Sunburst Sanctuary. Deer browsed in the meadow, and numerous bluebirds flew across the road ahead of us. But what really caught my attention was all the chatter coming from the birds in a cluster of tall sycamore trees.
“What are they saying?” I asked Al, who kept quiet. “They’re not saying, ‘Look at me!’ because they’re trying to attract a mate. And they’re not saying, ‘Get away from my spot!’ because they’re building a nest.”
Finally, I called my friend and excellent birder, Cary. She answered my questions with: “They’re saying, ‘It’s a beautiful day!’”
I think she’s right. Those birds could also be celebrating the end of daylight time getting shorter. With winter solstice, the days start getting longer, just as winter begins. How curious! This day lengthening continues until summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Sunburst Sanctuary’s standing stones help us celebrate these celestial moments. Of course, the southern hemisphere celebrates summer solstice when our northern hemisphere is celebrating winter solstice.
Around the world in ancient times, many celebrations began that are still held today at or near the winter solstice. Some age-old stories about the rebirth of the Sun are connected to this time of year.
At Sunburst, we enjoy a day of quiet meditation, and an evening of dining with friends (a potluck), as well as physically tracing our Hopi labyrinth. Walking the labyrinth “resets” us for a new beginning, a new year. This is a beautiful experience, walking among the colored luminaria.
This year the moment of Solstice takes place around midnight, when rain is supposed to begin. Perhaps this portends a wet winter. The other amazing occurrence will be an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon on Christmas.
My friend and astrologer, James Kelleher, informs us that our current winter solstice has the Sun aligned with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. “The galactic center isn’t an exact point, but rather an area in the middle of the galaxy, and it will take the Sun a long time to move through this area. This alignment has already been going on for a few decades and will continue for about another hundred years.…
“I think we can say that this event represents a realignment of the world’s collective consciousness with the laws of nature. We are being asked to center ourselves, and remember what is important. The vehicle that is being used for this reminder is the environment of the planet. …The power of destruction is being utilized in order to get our attention. So it is no surprise that we are experiencing the onset of a destructive period for the environment.”
Taking James’ sobering comments to heart, let us each do what we can to help our Earth in 2020.
By Dawn King
Each morning brings a new opportunity to engage with Life. At Sunburst Sanctuary, we generally start the day in group meditation at the Temple, with residents and visitors (who are camping) in attendance. Most mornings find my husband, Al, and I joining in.
We live nearby on Sunburst’s large property, which is also a wildlife sanctuary. Because deer would eat all the landscaping, some yards and the Temple/Lodge area are fenced. Most mornings we walk to and from group meditations, taking a longer-than-necessary rout by staying on the all-weather road. In this way, we begin our day with a beneficial walk immersed in Nature.
Some mornings are quiet with fog shrouding the surrounding hills. But some days reveal the wild animals with whom we share this land. A recent November day was particularly spectacular.
Just beyond our yard, a flock of noisy turkey hens pecked through the numerous fallen leaves. They called to each other; some were up the hill, some at the edge of the field. A few flew over a fence, and into a neighboring yard. Al and I walked on.
Not far from home, we saw black shapes moving in the big field. These soon turned and ran on—wild pigs in their usual trek toward the neighboring property. Next there were grazing mule deer, often curious spectators to our daily walks. While eating, walking, or resting, they watch us off and on, and keep their distance. Most of them already know us as harmless passersby.
After morning meditation and during our walk home, normally there are fewer wild creatures to see, but this day was different. Right in the Lodge gardens, the whole flock of turkey hens had gathered. We were nearly stepping over them to make our way out of the side gate toward the campground. That was certainly unusual.
In another two minutes we were midway down the main road, and noticing a half-dozen deer running full tilt toward the Lodge. This was strange. We marveled at their graceful giant leaps, as though they had springs on their feet—Boing! Boing! Boing!—resembling the agile bounding of kangaroos. I wished my feet and legs were as springy.
Now they were turning to cross the road on either side of us. This was all taking place very quickly. Now we saw the reason for their flight. A beautiful, darkly marked coyote was tearing across the field in full pursuit. He didn’t even see Al and I; his gaze was fixed on the deer.
The coyote raced far enough behind, that I couldn’t imagine he or she would catch the deer. I said as much to Al, and he responded, “Maybe there’s more coyotes ahead laying in ambush.” Wow! Some wild drama was playing out before us, whatever the outcome would be.
Needing to walk on home, we imagined the deer got away; in fact I think I’ve seen the same group since then. Every day isn’t like this. Some days are so quiet you might be startled by a bird pecking in search of an insect, or a lizard scurrying away.
Most mornings we walk silently through the mist, or the breathtaking beauty of sunrise, lost in our own thoughts, or intensely engrossed in the joy of being immersed in Nature. If you would like to experience the wild beauty of a retreat at Sunburst Sanctuary, visit our “Upcoming” page sunburst.org/events for opportunities, or give the office a call.
By Ischa Lea
The morning dawned with an air of excitement permeating the Sanctuary grounds. Adults and children alike anxiously awaited the beginning of a family friendly Regenerating Earth and Spirit event that would encompass three different components. And what a day it proved to be!
A brief introduction to highlight the planned activities by Sunburst’s permaculture expert, Sean Fennell, and Shakti Ranch’s Natalie Riggs further fanned the fires of anticipation of what the day might bring. And rare gifts it did. Natalie’s incredible ability to help each person connect with the resident Sunburst horses on a deep inner level of mutual exchange was phenomenal! Even folks who normally experienced trepidation around horses were happily and gratefully moved by Natalie’s ability to gently guide them to connect from their heart centers to the horses and the horses’ ability to “know” just what each person needed. What a transformative experience for all!
If Natalie proved to be an amazing horse whisperer, then Sean Fennell proved to be an equally amazing soil whisperer! His ability to tenderly weave the spiritual and material into a beautiful synchronistic interplay of permaculture principles, ethics and hands-on practices were greatly appreciated by everyone who accompanied him to the gardens to witness firsthand Spirit and Nature working seamlessly together as they helped plant vegetables, put up a small hoop house, and proceed to the orchard to plant apple trees.
Is there anything more fun than a hayride? What a thrill it was to join the kids as we all enjoyed a hayride to and from the compost area where Sean explained the logistics of making fine compost as well as noting the intricacies of Nature’s own way of ensuring that there’s no waste. Her ingenuity in designing natural systems of cohesive cooperation between life forms both above and below the soil is inspiring.
Alfred King’s expertise on grafting was yet another amazing highlight of an incredibly fulfilling day as many of us listened intently to the history and methodologies of certain grafting techniques. More exciting, however, was the opportunity for each of us to perform an actual graft on a tree to take home with us.
It reminded me of a sweet experience as a child of helping to make cupcakes, and the thrill of being surprisingly gifted with quite a few to take home! How proud I was to announce that I had helped make those lovely cupcakes. How equally thrilled each of us adults were, now that we’d done our first grafts!
And the magic moments at Sunburst continued as a few weeks later a new group of adventurous souls embarked upon a Nature hunt on the Sanctuary hills. The event? A Paleontology Workshop headed by Sunburst’s own science teacher, Moksha Badarayan, and Sunburst docent, Craig Hanson, who would lead eager trekkers up the hillsides to hunt for ancient clam shells and shark’s teeth. And boy did we find some beauties! The Earth Mother’s energy seemed so palpable that we adults could not help but morph into the innocence and excitement of childhood once again as we each hunted for the perfect petrified clam.
I had never witnessed such huge clams or imagined they could exist! Two young ladies repurposed a child’s wagon into a clam wagon to haul our large clam shells down the hill, stashed momentarily. Now the youngest trekkers joined the rest of us in the hunt for sharks teeth up Shark Tooth Hill.
Beautiful warm weather, blue skies, adventurous spirits, and loving company graced both events. As rewarding as it can be journeying inwardly to connect with Spirit in the quiet of our souls, thrilled at the prospect of a direct personal encounter with Spirit, it can also be rewarding to journey outwardly with kindred souls, discovering Spirit’s presence, beauty, and myriad gifts in Nature.