I saw, also, that there was an ocean
of darkness and death;
but an infinite ocean of light and love,
which flowed over
the ocean of darkness.
In that also I saw
the infinite love of God,
and I had great openings.
— Journal of George Fox, Chapter 1
Sometimes our outward efforts to celebrate this season
become in themselves burdens and distractions.
We struggle to recreate and preserve the remembered “feelings”
of family religious festivals to the point that we suffer
all manner of disappointment, frustration, resentment and loss.
Then we look at the world around us, with its escalating fear and anger,
and those dark feelings multiply, seem all-powerful, overwhelm us.
But there is really only the Light.
Image: “Winter Solstice 3,” by Liga Eglite (12/14/2011).
A traditional Yule decoration from Latvia.
2 comments On Winter Solstice – 2019
This is such a tender reflection, Michael. Thank thee for such an accurate expression of memories and cultural/familial traditions. Mary O’Shaughnessy said, “Our grief is the eternal testament that we have loved.”
We may expect the “Better Homes & Gardens'” kind of Christmas we seemingly associate with the euphoria of childhood Christmases of memory, an ideal to aim for, to recreate in adulthood – especially, for those of us without children of our own.
Some folk poo-poo Christmas yet embrace – or, at least, appreciate and accept – other cultures’ distinctive celebrations as more genuine and appropriate for them than our Christmas is for our culture of Christians in the U.S.A.
For decades, I’ve sent some of the children in my life Advent Calendars, then Christmas tree ornaments. Most of these children are in college, now, and have an assortment of ornaments to go with into adulthood. Coming up with our own traditions, such as these, that bring us Joy is key to finding some glee and quiet exuberance in the glow of Christmas traditions. Finding ways to re-create the Joys of Christmases past means coming up with new traditions, for me. Deep grief carves out room for deep joy – abiding with each other, moment to moment.
Howard Thurman, the African American man of the 20th century, theologian, educator, mystic, poet, mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., wrote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” The intense anticipation, excitement, wonder and awe of Christmases of childhood fill memories which confront me, now, with glaring LOSS, never to happen again, relegated to childhood (which I cannot go back and fix). And, perhaps, I’m ever attempting to spend adulthood fixing brokenness of family-of-origin life. And, Christmases of childhood were respites from the disappointments. And, now, the disappointments pile up. For some folk, life is numbed. For me, I eek out Joys & Sorrows this time of year, in part because of longings for the “Better Homes & Gardens” kind of Christmas for me and all my relations: near and far, friend and foe.
With much love,
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