Sad, perhaps; doomed, no: Solemn events mark Dec. 21

Solstice … Longest Night … doomsday?

The auspicious date of Friday, Dec. 21, carries plenty of weight this year — depending on your point of view.

The end of the world may or may not come on Dec. 21, based on belief, in some quarters, that the ancient Mayans’ long count calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012. Those believers hold that all creation will come to an end this Friday.

Or you could look at it as just the first day of winter for the northern hemisphere — the time, at which the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, bringing the shortest amount of daylight for the year.

To mark the solemnity of the occasion, two earnest events are planned in the Gorge on Dec. 21.

n A memorial service to honor homeless people occurs at 6 p.m. The candlelight vigil will be at Overlook Memorial Park on State Street in Hood River. The community is welcome.

n Longest Night — at 7 p.m. the community is invited to gather at Bethel Congregational Church in White Salmon (480 E. Jewett Blvd.) for its annual “Longest Night” service, a time of song, prayer and silence.

Organizers note that the event acknowledges the joy and the pain of this time of year. The Christmas season is one of both darkness and light. For many, this means that times of celebration are mixed with experiences of grief, sadness, loneliness and despair.

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