Friday, December 22, 2017

Rambling III: The Longest Night.

I used to be pagan and there are days I really do miss it - not because I miss believing in something, since I don't think that my motivations for calling myself pagan ever had anything to do with faith in anything, but because I enjoyed finding something sacred in the natural rhythms of life and the world around me. Eventually it felt hypocritical to continue to observe the sabbats when I knew I didn't "believe" in anything greater or more magical. I could continue to observe them silently, in my heart and mind, without the need for rituals that I didn't believe had any real effect. And then with time of course that observation fell away too.

A couple of the sabbats have stayed with me though, winter solstice/yule being one. I love Christmas, even as a non-Christian. I love everything about decorating my house, getting a tree, planning the gifts for friends and family, sending a ton of Christmas (holiday) cards, baking cookies, playing Christmas music, having a break from work, and on the rare occasion I get to see my family back in New Hampshire, even that. We don't have kids so Christmas is a quiet time and the solstice for me has been a time of reflection on the year that has passed, and a time to gather energy for the year ahead. The light is starting to return (which in Minnesota is no small feat). Whatever happened, happened. It's time for the new.

This past year has been hard and it's ending in a rough patch. In spite of that I've had some really amazing experiences (Mary Poppins, Scotland, The Lust Experience) but I'm definitely looking forward to what the light will bring. Yesterday brought good heart-related news. I'm teaching my favorite class this spring. More travel is on its way, including what looks like two trips to Ireland in the first half of 2018. And even though we're headed into the dreaded four months of grey, cold, slush and snow, the light is returning and it will eventually be summer again.

Found this poem this morning which resonated:

Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

—Jan Richardson
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