Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

The winter holidays are here. It is the time of year when we experience the darkest night of the year, the Winter Solstice. It is this time of year that brings darkness, and that also brings hope. It is the hope that is signified by the evergreen and the holly. Life is happening deep within the earth, gestating in the womb, to be (re)born when Spring returns. It is a time of drawing within to take comfort in the dark nights. It is a time of yuletide fires that remind us of the light to come. It is a time to gather with loved ones, to share one's presence (and presents). It is a time to give birth to hopes, dreams, and plans, to allow them to grow during the dark days. It is a time to renew one's spirit, to reflect, to love, to bring peace into this world, which knows too much unrest. It is a time for the rejuvenation and renewal of the earth, the renewal of our selves.

The winter holiday season can also be a difficult time. If you listened to the Joni Mitchell song, "River," you know that it is not a happy tune. It is beautiful, haunting, and moving, but not full of holiday cheer. Rather than focusing on the warmth of the season, it focuses on the chill when a relationship ends. While this time of year often signals weeks of festive engagements, with friends and family coming together from all over the map, it can also be a very painful time for many folks among us. There are a number of people who do not have family or friends with whom to share the holidays. They are lonely, and alone. They are not spending their time at parties, or at rituals celebrating the return of the light, or the manger birth of their messiah, or the eight nights of light, or any other winter celebration (or none at all). They do not embrace the dark, but rather fear it for the painful time it signals for them. This time of year, a time when so many are joyously celebrating birth in its myriad forms, can be a time so lonely for others, that it is lonely unto death. Theirs is not a time of celebration, but the remembrance of death, be it of relationships, family estrangement, shortage of friends. It can be a hard, sad, time.

And this year has definitely been one of loss for many of us. We have lost friends, we have lost family members, and some of us have lost our Party. We grieve the loss of those who turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the theft of a nomination, of voter fraud, of lies, of misogyny in the light of day. We mourn that our presidency can be bought so easily, with money, and callous disregard for morality and ethics. We are deeply saddened by what has happened in our personal lives, and our political lives. It has been a hard year for many of us, and we grieve.

To grieve is an important process, for those loved and lost, whether it be beloved four legged members of our families, or two legged loved ones; whether it be the end of relationships of great meaning, or loss of respect for those who embraced winning at all and any cost. Yes, it has been a hard year.

And yet, and yet, as the darkest night approaches, these sadnesses, these losses, can take us to another place. This season can be reclaimed as a time of spiritual renewal. It can be a time of deep introspection. It can be a time of going deeper within oneself to find the love one thought was lost. This is not an easy task, though. The spiritual journey is not a simple or painless one. But, it is a wholly worthwhile undertaking, if done with honesty, and compassion for oneself and others. There is mystery in this planet, in the universe, in the soul. This time of year, with the prevailing darkness, with the burning of candles, with the smells of evergreens seems to be the perfect time to engage in just such spiritual introspection, into the parts of who we are, that we may not venture to during the light. It is a time for reclaiming, rebirthing who we are, and our rightful place on this planet.

The following piece is by Clannad*. I think this piece is incredibly powerful - I don't understand the lyrics at all, but that doesn't matter to me. It's the music, all about the music. This one soothes my soul. I hope it does yours as well:

This wondrous time of year is a perfect time for spiritual reflection. Amidst the hustle and bustle in which many of us engage during this time, remember to take time for yourself. Go in. Go deep. Sow the seeds of love and peace. Be mindful of the spirit, of dreams waiting to be born, or the lonely among us. Extend the warmth of the hearth and heart to them.

Merry meet. Merry part. Merry meet again!

* In case you are not familiar with Clannad, they are Enya's family, and have been performing for years. Enya did sing with them for a couple of years, but then went out on her own.


Connie said...

Thanks for your reminders, your passion, and your heart. May you have a peaceful, rejuvenating Winter Solstice.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thanks so much, Connie! I appreciate that - what a lovely, lovely thing to say!

And I hope you have a merry Christmas, too!

Mike J. said...

All the best to you this fine holiday season! May next year be better than the last...

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Thank you, Mike J! And same to you!

From your keyboard...It has got to be better, right??

Blessings this holiday season.

SFIndie said...

Thank you for this beautiful post, RRRA. There is a card in the Osho Zen Tarot deck called “No-Thingness”; it is completely black. It often stirs up fear in my clients, because it feels like nothing, like emptiness, with nothing to hold onto. I tell them it is a resting place, it is the womb of the universe, it is the place where life begins again, and to sit in the silence of it and be with what arises: the joy as well as the sorrow, the laughter as well as the tears. Nothing exists without its shadow, and we must experience both to be fully whole. This is so challenging for many; I’m seeing a deeper pain in those who cannot find joy in life right now, and it breaks my heart. This year especially has been difficult, as society’s shadows have been uncovered for all to see. This year especially we need to go deeper within to find our faith and trust. This year especially we need to find compassion for those who are in pain. Your words are a reminder to us all.

I also happen to love Clannad, and found the translation for their song. I don’t know how accurate it is, but the words match the music for me:

Caislean Oir

Curfá: Chorus (after each verse):
Thart orainn, reált geal san oíche (Over us, a bright star in the night)
Tá'n fharraige chiúin agus suaimhneas sa ghaoth (The sea is quiet, and the wind is peaceful)
An fharraige chiúin ina codladh sa ghaoth (The quiet sea asleep in the wind)

Thíos sa ghleann an ghleann an cheo (Below in the glen, the misty glen)
Riocht na gréine i gCaisleán Óir (The kingdom of the sun in the Golden Castle)
Tá'n fharraige chiúin agus suaimhneas sa ghaoth (The sea is quiet, and the wind is peaceful)
An fharraige chiúin ina codladh sa ghaoth (The quiet sea asleep in the wind)

Driocht a mheall na daoine roinn (Magic charms the people there)
Soilse geala i gCaisleán Óir (Bright lights in the Golden Castle)
Tá'n fharraige chiúin agus suaimhneas sa ghaoth (The sea is quiet, and the wind is peaceful)
An fharraige chiúin ina codladh sa ghaoth (The quiet sea asleep in the wind)

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SFIndie -

Wow. Thank you for such an amazing comment. I really appreciate your taking the time!

Very interesting abt your clients and the No-Thingness card. I think it is very hard for many of us to just be - to just be in whatever it is that is at that moment, whether it be the chaos that often occurs when something is about to be born, or in the silence, the space between breaths.

Good, good, good of you to be doing the work you do! Wow!

And you totally rock for finding the translation. A couple of years ago, I was reading more abt Clannad, and they said they might, at some point, get around to translating their songs...But there is something abt their music, that even if I can't understand the words, I understand the effect their creations have on me. That particular piece just has a depth, an ancient feel, to it that I found powerful, moving, and connecting...

What a gift you have given with the translation - it is even more perfect than I first thought! Amazing!!