A New Year Dawns

Each day, I receive a post from Richard Rohr at the Center for Meditation and Contemplation. Rohr is a Franciscan monk for those of you not familiar with the name. In today’s post, he wrote about change, an apt post for this ending/turning time of the year.

“Exponential change creates exponential fear along with exponential hope. Massive transformation creates the double-edged cultural sword of decline and renewal. Exponential change ends those things that people once assumed and trusted to be true. At the same time, upheaval opens new pathways to the future. Change is about endings and beginnings and the necessary interrelationship between the two.”

While I stay abreast of the news and know what’s going on, I choose not to live in fear. It’s not effective. What I do live in is the reality of change. 

My previous post was on the Solstice. For the three days following the Solstice, the Sun stands still in the sky, and on the 25th it begins its movement north again. That change has been going on so long, we can’t even count the years except for approximations. The Sun returns. Every year.

And every few decades or centuries, earth’s civilizations go through a massive change. And after a time of turmoil, the civilizations renew and another epoc is born which would not have come about had there not been the preceding upheaval.  In other words, change fulfills “the necessary interrelationship between the two.”

Now we are coming to the end of another calendar year and about the begin anew. We’ll make resolutions, I suppose, because that’s the habit, and most of them will be broken. Perhaps that’s because in making resolutions, we force change rather than allow it to make its own time in the same way forcing corrections in the Julian calendar made it accommodate human inconsistency. The Hebrew calendar, on the other hand, seems more logical (and more difficult) in its correlation with lunisolar movements.

I tend to watch the sun and moon progressions. But we live in a world defined by numbers, and so, in this darkening evening outside my window, in a year winding to its end, I wish you an interesting 2018.

By happenstance, the numbers in 2018 add up to 11, and in the esoteric language (I am nothing if not esoteric-led) the number 11 is one of the Master Numbers, meaning it cannot be reduced further.

“In Numerology 11 is the most intuitive of all numbers. It represents illumination; a channel to the subconscious; insight without rational thought; and sensitivity, nervous energy, shyness, and impracticality. It is a dreamer.”

And so, in this new year dawning, I wish you pleasant dreaming. Be bold in your dreams; be patient; change and hope; and trust the journey.

J.

**photo by Jerry Stump

 

The Journey to Light

journeyAdvent begins tomorrow. This season brings a certain peace if we’re willing to remember and define a peace for ourselves. We always have a choice: bemoan the hustle and bustle and commercialism, get caught up in the turmoil of finding the right gift or impressive holiday decorations or the fabulous party outfit or the best sale, or we can turn within to wait for rebirth.

The value of having a spiritual life, regardless of the religion or the lack of religion, is remembering and celebrating rebirth.

There’s no doubt it’s been a stressful and chaotic year—from wars and rebellion to drought to flood to an acrimonious election season that seemed never-ending. And it’s not just the external out-there world in chaos: families have grieved a death or divorce, children have been hurt, adults suffered. We’ve each had our share of aches and hurt.

A long year of endless change and turmoil, re-doing, re-evaluating, reviewing, and nothing ever seemed done-done. There was always another detail, another “hanging chad” to reckon with. The to-do lists have grown, the marking off of the to-dos has become elusive.

And yet. It’s Advent.

Each December we have four weeks to watch and wait: for Solstice, Hanukah, Christmas, Bodhi Day, the New Year. Regardless of our tradition, every year we have four weeks to reflect and welcome the rebirth of light. Every year, we have an invitation to open ourselves to the faith-filled journey that we, and the world, will renew, that we will go on.

In our house, we celebrate Christmas, but we also celebrate Solstice. The earth tips, even if we don’t notice, and begins its journey back to summer. We all have a chance to be rebirthed in light.

The pause in the earth’s tipping has been a sacred time of reckoning for people since ancient times, and in our family for a very long time. Perhaps it comes from being people of the land, attached to farm and sky and earth.

I remember my mother marking the place in the middle of the winter-bare lilac bush, lonely at the far corner of the yard. It was her yardstick in the march of seasons. As December progressed, she’d look out the west window to see the sun set, to watch its glow as it passed through the far edge of the twiggy bush toward the center. And then the earth paused, and she watched as the sun began its journey north again, out of the lilac bush and into open sky.

Dad, and those of us kids who worked outside (and all of us did at one time or another) watched the gathering stars as we trudged back to the house after evening chores. I don’t know which bright star we followed (Venus setting that year? Jupiter on the horizon? Sirius?) but we all learned to follow a star, our star, in one way or another.

Will you remind yourself to take time to enjoy these four short weeks? If the earth can pause, so can we.

Which star will you follow this season of December? Which journey will you make?

.