Moments of Stillness: The Winter Solstice

The arrival of winter at Southall is significant, perhaps more so this year than ever before. The rise of the Cold Moon brings the hibernal solstice, the shortest day of the year, the same symbolic death and rebirth of the sun in 2021 that has been marked by nature since the dawn of time. It was important that we stop, listen, contemplate, and give thanks, together, acknowledging what the new year holds for our team and the farm.

As our growing staff races in every direction, making preparations to welcome the world next summer, we are intentional about the turn of the season. We mark these moments, mindful that they will never come again. And we incorporate elements of the future guest experience into our ceremonies — this time, led by Sarah Scarborough, the Tea Huntress.

Scarborough has been immersed in the ancient world of tea for more than two decades, first introduced while cooking at a Tibetan restaurant in Montana, and since then through intensive exploration of the Far East under the tutelage of a Buddhist monk. She leads retreats and workshops all over the globe but calls Nashville home, and we were fortunate to have her.

At its essence, we learned, tea is not a beverage but a meditative practice. Its origin is found four thousand years ago, with emporer Shen Nung deep in a Chinese forest. While boiling water to purify it for drinking, leaves from the camellia sinensis blew into his pot. He sought meaning in the event and found it — a tonic for the spirit, powerful enough to heal and guide.

For Southall’s winter solstice ritual, Scarborough selected a carefully harvested wild Chinese red tea she calls Rewilding, a high-vibration, primitive leaf that opens the heart to to the earth’s wild energy. As we gathered in a circle around her, she shared the sacred ceremony: cleansing the leaves before steeping them, then savoring the effects as we sat in silence and considered where we’ve been and are yet to go.

When we spoke, one noted the value of the “art of doing nothing,” the productivity that can be generated simply by cultivating moments of stillness. Another talked of the rejuvenating pleasure of receiving a bowl of tea prepared with love, when our team is wired for hospitality, always giving.

Collectively, that hour spent slowly sipping tea together — reflecting and dreaming — was priceless. Tyler Brown called it “a deep breath inward,” for us and for the land, as we recharge and prepare for the growth to come. When you arrive, we will be waiting with open arms.