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South | North

Four Lights :: On Anticipation

As adults, we have the wisdom of knowing that, often, the waiting for Christmas is really the best part.  We get to contemplate, time and again, what the Light of the World really means for us and how that image evolves with each passing year.  We also know that Christmas can be followed by a big let-down after all the hoopla.  I started celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas for the simple, shallow reason that I did not like that abrupt end.  That viewpoint has evolved, as well.

Four Lights

I love the beauty of watching the lights grow each week, I really do.
It starts so dimly and culminates with a great flourish.

The Light of Humankind

With three children in tow, I cannot help but try to grasp their viewpoint, as well.
They are, admittedly, waiting on presents.  Let's just be honest.

Cookie Calendar

Even with all the conversations about the "true meaning of Christmas,"
those mysterious gifts are still out there, looming and taunting.

Bernadette Watts Calendar

Like many things, my thoughts on the True Meaning are evolving, too.
Where did we get Christmas and how much did we steal from other festivals?
What made those festivals something to toss away or rebrand?

Advent Jar

It's not as much a question to answer, as it is one to ponder across the decades.
It's something I consider for the rest of the year, too.
How much of Easter is older than the Easter Story?
What about the ever-controversial Halloween?
What is the bigger picture of humanity?

2015 Spiral

These are the things that I am turning over this time of year.  The whole thing is, as much as I enjoy it, overwhelming to me.  Isn't it just a little funny to spend a month building up to a single day?  What does it do to my children to live with such fixation?  The Enki materials actually recommend celebrating just two festivals in the year, generally centered on a solstice or equinox.  A big part of it, I think, is avoiding overwhelm and materialism for the children.  Another consideration is sensory integration and learning to find joy in the everyday.  I really love that.  Life is full of everyday.

Enki suggests homemade gifts and a focus on the natural world, the lights in the darkness, and being comfortable with darkness and inward feelings.  That suits me well.  I think that is why I love the Advent or Winter spiral so much.  It begins with such a small, almost laughable, single light and grows.  And there are irreverent moments as people struggle to light their candles and try to figure how to get out of the spiral.  At the end, we all agree that it is beautiful.  The light is beautiful and that is the part we can commit to memory.

The term "Advent" was unheard of by me until I was in college.  I didn't see an Advent wreath or a calendar or anything.  I used to think that doing more was really my thing, that I would celebrate more than we did when I was at my parents' home.  It was my life and I would take all the jubilation I could get.  I can see how complicated celebration is, in general, now.  It becomes complicated when you let it happen.  I guess it is my own (quite simple) overcompensation that has me so baffled.  I think what I need to do is spend the year considering Advent and how we'll approach it next time.

I love festivals that mark the turns in the year.  We live in a place where agricultural rhythms are very visible.  We see haybales and corn and pumpkins and dairies and home vegetable gardens.  I feel blessed my children get to see those things, even with the challenges of Appalachian living.  The classic Waldorf festivals compliment things very nicely.  May Day is a wonderful way to really welcome the warm weather and Lammas is perfect for starting the harvest season.  August really is that full for us.  Martinmas suits us well, too, with its humble lanterns in a darkening world.

I suppose much of life is learning to navigate dark spirals and rejoicing in the light.  Yes, celebrating those journeys time and again seems very right.

A Blessed Wilderness

It was just like being in heaven, being in there. In those days there was no road. The park was all a blessed wilderness. I have often thought what a wonderful people we would have been if we had wanted to keep it that way.

~Adolph Murie, biologist, on Denali


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