Holy Days and Living Them

The year comes around again to the winter solstice and the many ways we humans have commemorated this time of year. The need to mark time, to be more present than usual, to imbue time with meaning is ancient in us. What we do these days and what was done long ago are very different. But under it all, our little planet is spinning in a vast universe and we mark time, making some days more significant to us than others.

Sharing traditions, sharing meals and gifts we look back and we look forward to the future. Gathering we make these days of special significance. We make them ours.

Phrases posted on Facebook December 2016

There is so much ache and tenderness in the holiday season. On the one hand we are dashed by what we hoped we would experience and didn’t. On the other hand we are surprised by love from quarters we did not expect. Holy Days and Living Them is my mulling for December.
In the northern hemisphere we celebrate light at the darkest time of the year. In times of celebration unbidden grief will also be there. I love what Florida Scott-Maxwell wrote: If one is going to be truthful one has to be very tender.  
To outgrow ourselves don’t we continually have to admit light and acceptance where we would rather keep it away? This is especially true during times of celebration when we may want to sweep unwanted things under the table. Real celebration is inclusive. Dark and light come together and make wholeness. No wonder we call these days holy days, but we could spell it like this, too – wholely days. 
Every year at holiday time it seems to me we are making a sort of patchwork
quilt. We sew the bright pieces together with the border of time and limitation. The dull and dark bits give depth and perspective. The backing of our love holds it all together. Finished the quilt warms us with memories and then in time we simply put it away glad to have made it.
We start the holidays earlier and earlier. As carols are played on the radio and in department stores over and over we become saturated. Repetition and muchness dims beauty. Too much creates too little. Holidays are meant to be festive and abundant, but it takes more and more consciousness to know what is the real measure of abundance doesn’t it?
Here is a little Haiku from my book On The Wing. It’s from the December holiday section.
Behind these bright lights
is the silence the know us
by our secret names.
Today is the Feast of Lights in Scandinavia where a blind Italian saint, St. Lucia, is said to have brought the light of faith to the dark north. Have you ever been in such intense light that you were blinded by it? In the presence of holiness, mystery and paradox always seem to happen. Maybe that is why Lucia is depicted with candles on her hair and even the traditional saffron bread is golden.
The streets of my town have beautifully decorated lights for the holidays. I wonder if I can see these lights as beautiful in January when they are back to being every-day lights? Decorations are lovely, but I want to remember that it’s the light that’s important, both inner and outer.
Our days are “given” days as long as we live. It is up to us to rejoice and be glad in them, to make them holy days.
Appreciating little things and through them being able to see what is tender and meaningful in life is to have 365 holy days a year.
Here’s another December Haiku from my book, On The Wing: Lyrical Moments. We all have lyrical moments from time to time, maybe more during the holidays:
  I have stopped counting
stars in the wintry river.
It’s all one shining.
Isn’t it when we are still that we sense what is holy to be near to us, and what can be born within us?
What love have we received in these holidays? What love have we given? Under the tinsel did we find the true glitter?
These days I hear people asking each other, Did you have a good holiday? The impulse to go back in time to savor what was seems to also be a way to move forward (unless, of course, we remain fixed in the good old days). Perhaps that is why both religious and secular holidays are spaced throughout the year for rest, sustenance, fun, meaning and renewal. I think holidays always ask us to carry something good forward into time.
The year is almost at an end. In many ways the New Year has already begun. We bring to it both hope and misgivings. If we could remember what Heschel said, Just to live is holy, we would reverence our days more and understand them to be full of meaning.