Welcoming Winter at the Rill

Welcoming Winter at the Rill

Happy winter solstice from all of us at Monan’s Rill. With snow last week and plenty of cold and stormy weather, we are welcoming this December transition to winter after abundant October rain and November warmth and sunshine.

In this solstice season, we are deeply grateful for all the support that our wider community has offered in the past year as we have been recovering from wildfire, regenerating the land, and reimagining and rebuilding our future together. Thank you for walking with us on this journey of renewal!

A Monan’s Rill Solstice Tradition

Every December for at least 35 years (nobody quite remembers when it started), the Monan’s Rill community has gathered to celebrate the winter solstice, bringing together past, present, and future members, as well as a few of our neighbors and loved ones. This year and last year, due to the pandemic (and rain), we held the gathering on Zoom rather than inside our community building, but still carried many of our solstice traditions.

Winter solstice at the Rill includes: demonstrating the science behind the solstice and the Earth’s seasons with a globe and a flashlight (or this year, computer graphics), learning about traditions and celebrations across different cultures at this time of year, reading and acting out a solstice story play (this year The Solstice Badger by Robin McFadden), and lighting candles to welcome the return of the light after the darkest night of the year.

Another key element of our solstice celebration is singing traditional carols with new lyrics created by Monan’s Rill members to reflect this landscape.

One of the original Quaker founding members of Monan’s Rill, Madeline Stevenson, wrote new words to the tune of the British folk carol “The Holly and the Ivy”, which former member Joan Linney found, edited, and typed up after we thought they might have been lost in the wildfire:

The Joy of Solstice Here 

Oh the rising of the sun
  And the running of the deer
   Sweet singing in our common hall
  The joy of Solstice here 

The Fir tree and Madrona
When they are both full grown
  Of all the trees that are in the wood
  These tall ones wear the crown 

The toyon is our holly
  And wears its berries red
  They brighten all our hearths and homes
  And the wintering birds are fed 

The manzanita blossom
  In bells of pink and white
Like scattering snow they softly glow
  In the morning’s graying light  

The live oak leaves have prickles
Sharp as any thorn
  And softly shed the silvery mist
  On a winter’s day in the morn 

Oh the rising of the sun
  And the running of the deer
   Sweet singing in our common hall
  The joy of Solstice here 

Another solstice carol unique to the Rill has words adapted by member Amy Robinson to the music of “O Holy Night” by Adolphe Adam. These posters were part of our most recent in-person solstice celebration in 2019, and although the paper versions burned, the photos lived on to accompany us in our Zoom celebrations in 2020 and 2021.

O, Solstice night,  
the stars are brightly shining. It is the night 
of the bright sun’s return. 
Long lay the Earth 
in cold and darkness pining ‘til it appeared, and 
each seed felt its warmth.
A thrill of hope, 
a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks 
a new and glorious morn! 
Fall on your knees! 
Oh hear, the birds so joyful!  O night  
O night 
of the sun’s return.  
O night, 
O night, 
O Solstice night.

May this solstice season brings you joy, rest, and renewal, and we hope to see you on the land in 2022!