December. Wrapped in darkness. Cold. Wet. Inwardly turned. And yet full of expectation and celebration. The fire of Yule. The pinprick of light returning on Solstice. The miracle of Hanukah: the oil lamp lit for 8 days re-sanctifying a defiled temple. The birth of hope against hope in a child born. Christmas. Each a holiday that leans toward a light that accompanies us in our hibernation, guiding us into the gifts of darkness.
One wonders if any of these religious traditions is enough to impact the suffering in our world, to bring hope to the hopeless. Each year there is more pressure laid upon them to help us find our way out of despair toward repair and restoration of our world. And yet each year we return to the season of these holidays of light, expectation, and hope.
Here at WUUC we celebrate the Solstice with a beautiful faralito lined labyrinth walk. Often the tree in the sanctuary is fresh enough that its scent enhances the sense of the labyrinth. To walk the labyrinth is to walk into one’s own inner sanctum and to bring out what one has found there. It is a gift offered by our earth-based members and friends.
We also honor the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. It is a story with its own truth as are all stories. We do not focus on facts but on the hope implied with the birth of a child, the hope of peace. We tell stories that tell THE story of the Christ child’s birth. Stories that work with what lies between the lines of the biblical story. This year we will do so in the form of a pageant based on the animals’ perspective of the birth. And in the evening, we will have a second service that is framed in song and stories. Each service ends with the singing of “Silent Night” and the lighting of candles to take home to carry the light into the world.
We gather with sentiment and longing, recreating memories of holidays past. Still hoping for a miracle for our world even if just for one day or night. Maybe it is we, gathering together during these times that is the miracle of embodied hope.
So bring your memories, bring your expectations, bring your hopes, and bring opened hearts to this time of year and its rituals. May they serve us and our world.
Peace be with you,