On this shortest day and the longest night of our year, I want to share a celebration of cycles and rest. As we spin and fly around the sun at just the right angle, we have stillness and darkness and space all around us and within us.
Will you take a full expansive breath with me?
In our capitalist, white supremacist, misogynist dominant culture, it matters to me to remember cycles. Straight lines constantly marching forward are not how trees grow — trees grow in concentric rings of expansion and repose. White tail deer sprout and release their antlers. My cats are sleek in the summer and very soft and fuzzy in the winter.
And the shocking news is we humans are not machines carrying around a vat of brain on top. We’re animals who evolved from animals, and we know seasons and cycles too. Our bodies carry knowing. Our nerves and our guts and our muscles carry knowing. We know what dignity feels like. We know how belonging feels. We know the feeling of safety. My vision of healing and liberation is when we all have dignity, safety, and belonging all the time, internally and externally: our animal selves able to breathe freely, relax fully, be together in wholeness. As Lizzo says, we can have it all, no sacrifice.
In this season of darkness, may we have space for rest. May our animal selves receive love the way my kids and I adore our cats when they are sleeping, producing nothing, not accomplishing a thing, just being. We tell them they are such good kitties. And we are good kitties too, in our rest and our existing.
I am holding appreciation for our wonderful PJALS Steering Committee making space for rest. Leading with our shared values, the Steering Committee approved new policies to support staff wellness and rest, including increasing paid time off, updating our holidays to include Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples Day, setting 36 hour work weeks as full time, and instituting a Summer Shutdown and Winter Shutdown as paid time off. We’ve piloted some of these changes during the pandemic and now they are in policy. I especially savor the Summer and Winter Shutdowns because they feel so right for my cyclical animal self and they normalize rejuvenation. Here’s one way we enact our shared commitment to safety, dignity, and belonging: we support rest.
The earth’s cycle of spinning and spinning at just the right angle means we’re in winter now. On this Solstice, I am telling you too: you are a good kitty. Your inherent worth has absolutely nothing to do with production or accomplishment.
On this solstice night and all nights, may the night sky find us all sheltered, fed, warm, joyful, and safe in all ways.
In solidarity for warmth and belonging,
Executive Director, Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane