The Magic Of December ||Winter Solstice Celebration & A British Christmas Day
Nearly a year has gone since I started out on this adventure of travelling. And yet, some things are not tied to any country or home address. Such is the case with the magic of December. It marks reflection and introspection, serves to reminisce about gratitude towards what was and what is. December is both hectic and peaceful. All the tasks I feel I need to accomplish alternate with the moments of deep freedom and awareness. It truly has its very own, unique blueprint and I felt this to be true especially because of being in a different environment this year. Although I hold onto the same pillars of traditions, wherever I may go. I want to give thanks to all the kind souls that have blessed me with their presence in my life. I want to connect to nature and let her aid me in my contemplations. I want to look ahead and move forward with the knowledge that I continue on my journey to self discovery.
Each and every one of us has people in their lives. Some trigger us to bless us with valuable life lessons about ourselves, others offer us their unconditional kindness, compassion and love. Although for the most part of my life I felt like an outsider, I am proud to have overcome my social anxiety. The fruit of my labour is the greatest gift of all, every year and throughout it: It is the joy of being able to connect with people of all ages, races and mindsets. Seeing unity in diversity, common ground in differences, learning that we all are connected and have this innate sense of care for one another. It turns out to be one of the most valuable gifts I got. Aside from all our difficulties that we might perceive, we are all the same, all from this Earth. Despite different walks of lives, religions, or any other box we might put people into, in the end we are all the same species on the same planet. We all want to live happily, content, and receive as well as share in love.
I try to show my love in various ways throughout the year. One of these ways is to think about something that would spark joy within a person in the form of a gift. The ideas come to me during conversations or while browsing through social media, I write them down and come October begin to work out ways to realise them. I do not know if I am good at it, nonetheless I think of it as 'The Art of Giving' and it brings me absolute joy if I succeed in making a person smile. Be it with a material gift in which I invested my time, like a letter, card or a DIY present, or be it immaterially by surprising them in taking things off their ToDo lists. Time is our most valuable asset and by investing my own into the creation of something or by freeing it up for another person to spend it as they please, I hope I can contribute to showing them appreciation and respect. This year, there were a lot of people who I longed to give some sort of recognition for how they affected me, moved me, changed me, supported me, helped me, showed me kindness. I designed a personal Christmas card and wrote individual, private messages in each one of them. I poured my heart into the making of self made Christmas presents for my host family. I put on my apron and spend time to bake traditional Christmas biscuits, pack them in reusable Christmas boxes and decorate them with collected items from the different beaches. I long to show people how uniquely special they are, how important they are and how wonderful it is that they are here on this Earth, shining their light, doing the best they can, every single day.
By now most of you know how enchanted I am by this glorious island. I have written lengthly and often about its charm and beauty and grace and spirituality. When my hosts Sarah and Andrew took me to see the Standing Stones of Callanish for the first time back in April, they also told me that people gather here for the Winter Solstice. From that moment I knew that if I came back here during December, I'll go there and celebrate my personal beginning of the New Year there. Friends of mine made me aware of the fact that it might not be as calm and peaceful though because quite a few people enjoy and celebrate Winter Solstice on this island with their whole family gathering there. So I made up my mind to enjoy my favourite place on Gallan Head, that I visit far to seldom to be honest, have Marjorie with me for a long walk without any time constraints, and then drive up to the Standing Stones late afternoon, just in time for the sunset. And oh how magical it was.
After bathing my feet in the icy water of a loch, I settled for a meditation and continued with a smooth yin yoga practice. Having found my own rhythm of timelessness, I ventured down the cliffs to my favourite spot and nestled myself between to rocks facing the endless sea. It was not long before I was able to immerse myself in the smells of saltwater, the sounds of calm waves against the cliffs and the cries of a multitude of seabirds above my head. My soul was resting, my heart felt at home and I was gifted with the most special of Solstice gifts I could have wished for: Whales. Directly in front of me, following the trail of krill. And not only this, a majestic eagle soaring along the opposite cliffside, wings stretched, landing elegantly, overlooking his kingdom from far above.
A few hours later, I arrived at the Standing Stones. Just in time for the sky and clouds to be bathed in all sorts of colours, from red to orange, pink to indigo. The reflection of this glory on the surface of a nearby loch sparked pure awe within me and once again, I was speechless. The magic of this day continued with a group meditation and spending the remaining hours of this shortest day of the year by filling the pages of my journal with all thoughts about the past year, the present moment and the future intentions.
An inconceivable day, with no words, not even pictures or videos, to be able to describe the connectedness and love I felt.
As in most Catholic countries, I was brought up with the Austrian tradition of celebrating Christmas on the 24th of December. A strange mix between Baby Jesus and Christmas Angel supposedly rings its bell three times in the evening, allowing the children to enter the room that has been decorated with a Christmas tree, little lights and candles everywhere- and of course, presents. Because of the kind invitation extended by my host family to stay even though their Christmas vacation away to Africa had been cancelled, I was able to witness a very British Christmas Day. Presents on the morning of the 25th of December, a huge Christmas lunch with all a hungry heart could long for, the Queen's annual Christmas speech and a joyful time of games, concluding the day with a movie in the evening. To my absolute surprise I was showered in gifts, and later on moved to an episode of joyful tears, because of their generosity, thoughtfulness and warmth towards me. Welcoming a stranger to your house over Christmas time is one thing, but treating them nothing short of family is beyond what I could have wished for. I felt at home, at ease, as if being myself was enough, no expectations other than being authentic and having a good time. The warmth of my host family, the welcoming arms, the considerate inclusion of receiving gifts and the underlying encouragement for my hopes and dreams with these very presents, healed something within me.
I am humbled and deeply, genuinely grateful.
One year ago I would not have been able to contemplate on how much of my happiness is induced by human beings, human connection and interaction. As someone who seeks solitude and calmness in nature, having the experience of feeling appreciated and loved by others for just being, is the most wonderful gift I could have ever wished for.
Thank all of you out there for following along on my journey, supporting me, staying with me even if miles and miles are between us.
I want to offer my deepest gratitude and thanks to each and everyone out there!
Thank you so very much.
I send you hugs, and warmth, and from my heart to yours, all the best in the world for you!
Love and light, beloved souls