My yearly reflection and renewal meditation ritual started on December 21, 2014. The solstice is an appropriate time to reflect on the past year. It is also the turning point of winter where we welcome the new light of the upcoming year. For me it has become an ideal time for self-examination and re-dedication.

Across many cultures and for thousands of years the winter solstice has been celebrated. For some it is a time to mark mid-winter and plan agricultural activities. Others, it is a time for family and rejoicing. Many see a spiritual significance to the day.

The solstice of December 21, 2014, was a deeply significant day for me personally. During the month that preceded, I was diagnosed with three separate cancers; bladder, kidney, and prostate. I was in the darkest spot mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, that I had ever been. I was totally desperate. I could not fathom that I had a chance to live. I was certain that I would die.

It was on the sunrise of the solstice that I started my yoga practice. The darkest day of the year matched my mood. I started a sun salutation because it felt appropriate to welcome hope with the new sun. I received an insight. My insight was that one can only get to the end of the sun salutation by dedicating yourself to each pose, one at a time, following the sequence.  This saw me through three surgeries in 2015 and complete recovery.

Since that revelation, I designate the winter solstice as a day for self-reflection, dedication, and intention setting.

This year, my Sweetheart and I, attended a group labyrinth walk as the vehicle for our meditation. Labyrinths have long been used to symbolize an inner voyage to attain enlightenment. I had previously walked labyrinths alone, but this was my first time in a group setting.

The room was dim. Only the candles that defined the edges and the cardinal points of the labyrinth provided any light. About thirty participants had shuffled in from the cold wet winter weather. The moderator welcomed us to enter at our own time, and respect the other participants by staying until all had exited the labyrinth.

I stayed back a while and observed as people walked the twisting path. Some were on the way in while others on the way back out meeting on the same path but in different directions. Some were fast walkers. Some were slow walkers who seemed to cause a line-up of folks behind them – until one would decide to step ahead. From a distance, it looked like people were just wandering about in the room – back and forth – aimlessly.

I was struck with how this was a metaphor for life. All of us are following our individual path. We meet people on the way either on the same path but perhaps going fast, slow, or the other way. It makes for a messy sight observing everyone following their path at different points – but it is the way of life.

I entered the labyrinth. My meditative walk towards the center focused on events over the last year. Some were positive others not so. I won a promotion to a job that I didn’t enjoy. However, I made a lateral move to a similar job in an organization I love working in. My dad passed away – I found it hard to lose your last parent. Finally, I felt totally physically recovered from my surgeries and started exercising again. My continued good test results indicate no further issues on the horizon. Ups and downs in other areas of relationships, activities among others. A year of changes.

I reached the center, sat and meditated on the future. You can stay in the center as long as it takes to receive from the Universe. My message that emerged was that I was ready to move on, forge ahead without fear. I was renewed in my purpose.

In walking out, I mused on what that meant for the different aspects of my life. Where had I put things on hold or back out of because of my dark time and year of changes? Where did I need to take the next step in my path, one step at a time to complete a sequence to my goals?

On December 21, 2014, I was in the dark – the darkest day in my life. December 21, 2018 was a day of renewal, revelation, and re-dedication – a day I stepped back into the light. I am in a good place.