The Shortest Day and the End of the World
It is easy to believe all those people who know nothing at all about the Mayan Calendar but are feeling the same existential angst human beings have been feeling for millennia at this time of year and they want everyone else to feel it, too.
A friend asks me, “What will happen? Will the lights just go out?”
That is just what it has always seemed like for terrified people watching the days get shorter and darker. Our electric lights and our technology and our belief that humans can control nature if they just Build Something have insulated us from that ancient fear. The Mayan Calendar craze has broken through that. It has given people something to dread. Or at least to talk about dreading, which is a start.
Because when the dread is over – and it will be – there is a party and, if we’re lucky, a look at things that have gone wrong and could be made right, because it is never too late.
The Shortest Day
By Susan Cooper
And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, revelling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Dawn over a Finger Lakes vineyard. Photo credit: Finger Lakes Visitors Connection