Winter Solstice: The Moon Is Always Whole

By Jan Richardson

Winter Solstice © Jan L. Richardson

As you may already know, the wee hours of tonight will hold a rare event: for the first time in nearly 400 years, a total lunar eclipse will occur on the Winter Solstice. In a thoughtful reflection marking the event, Ron at the Grünewald Guild’s Scriptorium comments that “The last time this occurred Galileo himself likely watched the phenomenon . . . perhaps from a window in his villa” where he was under house arrest.

To celebrate the occurrence, here’s a lunar reflection from Night Visions. It holds a tale of a full moon that I saw long ago in another land. As we move through the longest night of the year and cross back into the bright half of the calendar, what wholeness might lie in the shadows of your life, waiting to reveal itself?

The Moon Is Always Whole

I walk with Kary under a full moon on the grounds of the only castle in New Zealand. Under its light I tell her about a Barbara Kingsolver poem I have recently come across: “Remember the Moon Survives.” It does, Kingsolver writes. Around the encroaching darkness the moon bends herself, curls herself and waits. Against the waxing and waning shadow, she writes, the moon is always whole.

Kary asks me if I believe this, believe in the constant wholeness of the moon. I think about the year past, about the rising and falling tide of sorrow that has played on my shores. I think of how I embraced the opportunity for a trip to another land and the possibility for respite it would provide. But the tides run in this Southern Hemisphere as well, and I am dismayed by the flow of memory that pulls me even here. I had thought to leave your shadow across the ocean.

But here, beneath the full moon, I tell Kary yes. Yes, the moon survives. Beneath the ebb and flow of darkness it is waiting. I have seen it whole.


God of the two lights,
I love the sun,
its revealing brilliance,
its lingering warmth;
but in the dark of night,
let me learn
the wisdom of the moon,
how it waxes and wanes
but does not die,
how it gives itself
to shadow,
knowing it will emerge whole
once more.

[Reflection and prayer from Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas © Jan L. Richardson.]

For other solstice reflections, visit  Solstice: A Woman in Winter at my Sanctuary of Women blog and Festival of Lights here at The Advent Door.

[To use the “Winter Solstice” image, please visit this page at Your use of helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]

4 Responses to “Winter Solstice: The Moon Is Always Whole”

  1. Doug Clark Says:

    On the night of December 20, I arrived home late, around 11 p.m., from a church meeting. Stepping out on the deck to let my dog out, I was stunned by joy as I looked up and saw a perfect halo in the translucent haze around the full moon, brighter and more perfect than any I can recall ever seeing before. Early in the morning of December 22, around 5:30 a.m., the moon in the cloudless sky was incandescent. Tree shadows in our back yard were as sharply defined as if it were midday. This “lesser light that rules the night,” though it reflects but a tiny portion of the light that shines from the “greater light that rules the day,” has its own transcendent beauty. In our human striving to reflect but a tiny portion of holy love, may we be given glimpses of our own transcendent beauty.

  2. Barbara Gardner Says:

    Dear Jan, thank you so much for sharing your words, art, etc. Everything is so beautiful and spiritual. I love poetry but unable to write poems.
    I was searching for a poem about Advent and/or Christmas and am overwhelmed by your works and how meaningful they are. I edit our church magazine “The Lance” (St George’s Church) and would ask your permission to include Blessing for the Longest Night and Christmas Day: How the Light Comes. Of course I will include the credit line.
    I think The Light brought me to your website. Barbara

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Barbara, thank you so much! I am just now seeing this; I’m sorry not to have responded sooner. I’d be pleased for you to include “Blessing for the Longest Night” and “How the Light Comes” in your church magazine, if there’s still time. Thanks for including this in the credit line:

      © Jan Richardson.

      Many blessings to you and your congregation as Advent arrives!

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