We tend a fire throughout the longest night to coax the sun's return. The tired sun, held in the arms of Night, grows younger and younger, to be reborn at dawn. What a miracle it is to live on this watery planet suspended at just the right distance from the sun for us to grow and thrive. Metaphor and stories abound: The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. Hope is kindled in the shadows, in squalor and rejection, in a crowded city, on a mundane journey. The Divine must be tended like a helpless infant. But the literal is also worthy of awe: food, heat, wind, ozone, garden, growth, dinner. Photosynthesis. Delicate, chance-in-a-million life.
From our vantage on earth, the sun sleeps long and wakes slowly. Did our "primitive" ancestors worry its return? Even philosophers like David Hume - sophisticated, post-Enlightenment - wouldn't guarantee the sun's rising again. So we keep vigil through this night. We greet the dawn with wonder and relief. Summer is still a promise and a dream. Dream the long nights. Bask in the warmth of your tribe. Stoke the fire, and hope the future into being.