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 Rebirth of Light

It’s Solstice. We have candles burning. I’ve finished with the holiday baking and sending packages and holiday greetings. It’s time, now, to be quiet, letting go of planning, and enter being.

Solstice is an ancient holy day, long before organized religions, and often celebrated some deity who was born shortly after the Solstice. From out of the darkness, light was born from a Great Mother. The birth most of us are familiar with is that of Jesus, but for an interesting list, look here.

But the mother I think most about at this time of year is my own. I can see her, standing at the west window of the farm house, looking at the lilac bush, devoid of leaves, only scraggly branches, but it gave her a measuring rod.

In the few days leading up to the Solstice, Mother would go to the window and mark where the sun was through the branches. Each day, she would go at the same time, late in the afternoon, and check the Sun’s placement. As Solstice, she would stand longer at the window, because she knew the Sun would sit there for three days. She didn’t say anything, she just stood and looked. And on the third day, when the Sun began inching itself up again through the branches, she would smile and sigh.

It make me think, in my young years, it was because of my mother’s vigilance that the Sun returned.

It’s always a chance, a time for setting intentions for a new cycle, for a re-birthing into the light of our own lives.

So I wish you a happy and holy/wholly Solstice return of light. May your life and work be filled with the richness and peace that can be birthed for each of us, from darkness, and sometimes hopelessness, to hope.

Peace be with you. Peace be with us all. When we can live in hope and peace, when we offer that to all we meet, the light returns.

 

Time Out

I think I’m taking a break, here. Although I’m doing short reflections daily for Advent on the church site blog, I’ve been less than active here.

Today, at least I think it was today, maybe yesterday, that shows how far I’m behind on email too, Michelle W. who’s part of the WordPress staff, posted Lights Out: How to Take a Holiday Hiatus (sort of an onomatopoeia Christmassy sound to that). The most important part for me is the permission to say I’m taking a break.

I’m taking a break.

Life, oddly enough, is sort of slowing down. Son-Who-Lives-With-Us left to visit his father and brother in Florida. We are home alone. Shopping, although not wrapping, is done; mailing is done (okay, there’s still a family email to do); baking for “my boys” is done and either on the way to San Diego or in above son’s suitcase heading to Florida. The calendar is emptying. So why the break?

Well, Christmas isn’t just the tree and lights and presents, although we dearly love those, but a more reflective, and I’ll venture to add, spiritual time for us. We talk story and remember our families and childhood; we sit and watch the sparkle on the tree; Cliff builds fires and we listen to Christmas music. But the most important thing we do is reflect on our journeys this past year: what we’ve learned; what we choose not to bring into the new year; what we want to develop.

Although I don’t write much about our religious life on this blog (that URL is above if you’re interested), you’ve probably heard a tone of it in my writing. That’s my focus at this time of year. Peace. Justice. Kindness. Joy. Reflection. With the spirit that is part of us all and called by many names.

It’s Hanukkah, the festival of lights; Solstice, the return of light; and Christmas, the rebirth of light. There’s Kwanzaa, the celebration of culture and the wisdom of elders (that’s it’s own kind of light). The Buddhists get left out of December holy days, and the Islamic new year was in the western month of October this year. But I expect we can all celebrate spirit and light at any time of year.

Celebrate. Rejoice in your light; your heritage; your life. And the most important resolution any of us can make for the New Year is to be kind. That’s all. Kind.

I may not be back until the second week of January. It takes a while for this old bear to roll out of hibernation; and we may be going up to the farm the first full week of January. I’ll return, I promise. In the meantime:

Peace be with you. And you. And you…….All are Welcome

..

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The Return of Light

This end of week period leading into Christmas includes several stellar days: the Solstice, Hanukkah, a New Moon, and Christmas Eve, all bellweather dates for celebrating the return and rebirth of light.

This morning, I was thinking about my friends who live in the Southern Hemisphere and how this time of year for them is high summer, this solstice their turn from long days to shorter days into winter while in our Northern Hemisphere the turn is to light and to longer days into summer.

And I know there are families in Australia, for example, celebrating Christmas, with very different customs, I’d think. Although I did read how Cate Blanchett said they have a traditional roast beef Christmas dinner but no one eats it because it’s too hot. Odd, this Christmas thing and the traditions around it.

And then I began thinking how Christmas is really a European creation; i.e. from the Northern Hemisphere. Yes, we’d like to think it’s a desert creation with the birth of Jesus and all that: the baby, the star, wise men, shepherds; but the reality is Christmas was created in Rome. And developed throughout Europe to replace the pagan holiday around Solstice. And yet, tomorrow morning in church, we’ll read the story of Mary and Joseph and the baby and once more, we will celebrate the birth.

We are such odd beings we human being. No doubt someone reading this post will complain I’m taking the magic out of Christmas, as if that weren’t an oxymoron in itself. Magic? Christmas? Okay.

I like it too! Our house is filled with magic: with lights and cards and packages and wrapping. All of it. Oh, and cookies. I’m not sure what kind of magic that is, but they sure are good.

What I especially like at this time of year is family and stories. And I remind myself (as I seem to do each year) to ask my older sister about the stories she remembers from when we were young. And Cliff pulls out the Christmas movies and we watch Alastair Sim create Scrooge once again (I don’t deserve to be so happy!); and we pull out the Grinch (both Jim Carrey and the cartoon); and A Child’s Christmas in Wales (did you even know there was a movie based on the book?). Cliff lines up the movies next to the television and we go through them one by one, just as he stacks up the Christmas CDs and we go through them one by one.

Last year, our house was filled with family. This year, it’s mostly filled with simple. Just us. And both are wonderful in their own way.

So however you are celebrating these holy-days, may they be filled with laughter and light and peace and, most especially, cookies!

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Solstice

Today’s the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the official beginning of summer. In the Southern Hemisphere, this Solstice marks the beginning of winter; i.e. the Winter Solstice. A Solstice, and there’s two of them each year, one in June and another in December, mark endings and beginnings.

The Summer Solstice, for example, marks the entry into the summer season of play and light clothes and friends and picnics. But at the same time, it marks the end of the Earth’s tip toward the Northern Hemisphere. In other words, our days begin to get shorter, even if incrementally, and we’re falling into winter – although I can hear my friends who each winter long for summer moaning at this reminder.

We don’t always remember to hold our endings when we begin – anything… a life, a project, celebrations. We’d rather hold the longing for a beginning rather than recognize the end coming with it.

I’m trying to hold all that now and think about it – hold a beginning and an ending at the same time. Here’s a concrete example to grasp: the oak tree that shades my writing space rustles in glory. It’s a mature tree, tall, and the sun won’t hit the front window here until about noon – at which time it will pass over the house so this room stays cool. But in the winter, that same tree has lost its leaves and allows the same blessing of sun, only its opposite, to enter this room and warm it.

But those are only examples. The reality of holding endings and beginnings at the same time – well, there is no concrete reality. Holding them both is a concept, rather, a knowing, an “is” which is hardly more help. That’s sort of like knowing God is an “is” in the great “I Am.” Okay. And what’s the reality of that???

I’ve been thinking about the reality of is-ness a lot lately.   

The world IS in a stew, to say the least; the weather IS pretty chaotic; drought IS in Western Kansas while flood IS in Eastern Kansas. Oh, and by the way, the Sun IS a little nuts right now and today hurled a solar flare earthward – which will reach earth’s magnetic field about the 23rd. Thank you for the early fireworks.

I’ve given up making sense of just about anything – except my life IS okay. Right now. And right now IS what we have.

Perhaps that IS the way to hold the beginnings and the endings – staying in that place of is-ness.

So there’s my meandering wandering for today. Any insights would be welcome.

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