Vernal Equinox

This week I have been musing about the meaning of Equinox. Somehow, especially here in Alaska, calling a day between the 19th and 21st of March the “First Day of Spring” doesn’t quite cut it. In Fairbanks, at least, the ground is still covered with snow. The trees are not yet budding out, as they are in the Lower 48 states. There are no crocus or daffodils pushing up. What we DO have is more light. What blows my mind is the fact that at the Equinox, whether vernal or autumnal, there is equal, or almost equal, amounts of light and dark everywhere on the planet. If we tune in at all to celestial phenomena, that must mean something. In many places, where people live in cities and rule their days by work schedules, this event goes virtually unnoticed, but in Alaska it’s a big deal. From this point onward to the Summer Solstice, we rapidly gain daylight until there is no dark at all. If I were to create a ceremony to mark this event, I would want to have balance, equality, and a moment of stillness. I think about one of my favorite quotes from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets:

“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

In the past I have used this quote to share with non-Quaker audiences what it is like to settle into silent worship. But today I see its relevance to the Equinox, the still point of the turning world.

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