My wife wanted to be at work at eight o’clock today. Sunrise was at six minutes past eight. Somehow, in all my preparations for the celebration of the solstice I got it in my head that I could take the kids to my tree and we’d welcome the sun together.

It’s a nice idea, and I still feel good thinking about it.

The thing is, I’ve inherited a thing from my father that makes it difficult for me to be pleasant to children when trying to meet a deadline. I’m not proud of it, and I’m working on it, but it did rather set the tone. I got the kids up pleasantly enough and told them that they didn’t have to change out of their pyjamas until after we’d visited the tree (they know it now, they helped me name it Hofgaard, it’s a regular stop on our walks) and came back for breakfast.

A moment later I looked in the bathroom and the oldest — and slowest changing — was taking his pyjamas off.

Regardless, we made it to Hofgaard with time to spare, and the walk was mostly pleasant. On the way, I noticed that it was really, really overcast (so much for ‘partly cloudy, Google!’). We talked about everything, of course, from trees that my daughter likes (all of the ones we past, plus the ones near her fictional pink faerie castle) to why Papa was happy the sun was coming back to the things my oldest would like to shoot.

We were ten or so minutes early, and it started to drizzle. The oldest was really impressed that it was getting lighter even though we couldn’t see the sun, and my daughter was frightened of a leaf-raking tractor that the maintenance crew was driving around.

It was impossible to tell when, exactly, the sun rose. After goofing around a bit — with the daughter never very far from me because she was afraid of the tractor, we — and that means, I, on behalf of the group — indicated that we were glad the sun was coming back and that the days were going to get longer. We said goodbye to Hofgaard, and went home.

In conclusion, I don’t know if there was much sense to the whole thing.

On a pedagogical, child-rearing level, I think it’s the beginning of a nice tradition, and a family memory. If we stick to it, it’ll be something that our family does that’s different. I recall once being horrified by the ‘freakish’ things my family did, and later cherishing them as something that gave me an identity apart from ‘the others.’ It’ll definitely be one factor in that direction. (Though, I doubt they’ll lack for things to find freakish about us when they’re teenagers.)

On a spiritual level, as a stepping stone on my own spiritual journey, I really don’t know. I know that I would have been more reflective if I’d gone alone (not really possible when my wife has to work). It’s hard for me to express this logically, but I don’t think I can have a spiritual experience as a person without it also being somehow a spiritual experience I have as a father. Not that what I did yesterday didn’t mean anything to me, but that sharing what I’m doing, feeling, and thinking with my kids is as important a part of the process as the process itself.

For me, anyway.

So, perhaps finding a simple thing for us to do together — even if it wasn’t spectacular or especially moving — was worth the hassle. Now, I just need to work on getting out of the apartment on time and pleasantly.

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