I’m known as the Grinch in my family. This morning I intended to write politely about my disdain for Christmas. To implore others to turn away from consumption and the pressure to meet expectations toward something spiritual. The Solstice. The old ways. Back to meaning and light. That’s what I thought. Instead, serendipity led me to this photo while looking for a visual for that other story.
My family and I watched this sunset from the deck of Captain Nancy’s house near Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Nancy was a stranger until early that morning when we boarded her boat to search for dolphins. Before long, we encountered a large pod, which graciously allowed us to join them. Some of them stopped to wait for us when our younger daughter fell behind. Others turned to look us in the eye from just a few feet away. It was a magical morning.
We felt fortunate to spend time in the presence of those creatures, transformed even. While heading back to shore, our fortune continued when Captain Nancy invited us to Easter Sunday dinner with her family and friends that evening.
We were the only non-residents at the gathering. The view from Nancy’s hillside house was new to us, and someone joked that maybe we would get lucky and see the green flash. Our new acquaintances had never seen it but certainly knew all about it. They explained the elusive phenomenon that happens at sunrise or sunset when the conditions are just right, requiring clear air and an unobstructed view of the horizon.
Swimming with the dolphins that morning had felt like a miracle, so it was hard to conceive of experiencing another once in a lifetime if you’re lucky kind of event. But hey, why not watch just in case?
As evening closed in, the locals watching with us turned to other things – beautiful sunsets are their norm – leaving my family of four leaning expectantly against the deck rail. I grew tired of taking pictures and stopped at this point seen above. If it was going to happen, I wanted nothing between me and the sky.
Three minutes, maybe four passed. The sun slid silently into the water in a blaze of orange that obliterated the horizon. Sky and water were one, and then…pop! A shot of neon green exploded as the last of the semi-circle sun changed color and descended.
We gasped in unison, making heads turn.
The green flash! We saw it!
Awestruck and giddy, we laughed and cried as the other dinner guests moaned in disbelief and disappointment. How did we miss it? I don’t believe it!
How fitting it was to see a miraculous flash of light on a day celebrated for rebirth. And, how perfect it is to find it again today as I reflect on the Solstice, the return of the light, amid what feels like a soul-sucking commercialized marathon in the next few weeks.
I close my eyes now, recalling the brief moment that wrapped us in a miracle. An alchemical combustion of light, perspective, and visibility transformed heaven and earth into something more.
I’m reminded that how I frame this time of year – as a hyped-up nuisance or a celebration of possibility – is a choice.
I won’t turn away from the possibility, won’t assume I know what I’m seeing. I’ll keep my eyes open like a novice, expecting the impossible because why not?
More than once, the universe has shown me how it conspires for my greater good. It’s all a matter of perspective, the light of my own heart, and the willingness to look beyond myself.
And while I took a break from my desk to ponder, the universe responded immediately to test my budding change in attitude.
My daughters pulled up to the house with a Christmas tree on the roof of the car. Half the size we usually get in our annual trek to find a tree as a family, but perfectly shaped. They had no idea my Grinch self was in full force this morning, dreading the tree shopping logistical nightmare and subsequent fight to get help decorating the house.
I laughed at the sight of it – my vision unobstructed – and felt the energy shift in and around me that comes when divinity shows its hand.
Isn’t it cute? We’ll do all the decorating Mom. We’ll take care of everything!
With my inner Grinch out of the way, I think I can look for the everyday moments of transformation in those I love, the people I serve, and within my heart and mind. Heaven and earth come together, and little miracles abound. That is what makes life magical, no matter the season.