This morning, following a night of light snow, we awoke to a white world. The sun plays shadow games with passing clouds. Today the air is warmer than yesterday.
Yesterday we awoke early and went to the Unitarian Church to serve breakfast to all who sought warmth and food. The morning was bitterly cold, and many homeless and marginalized persons arrive to catch a free, plentiful meal. The event also drew large numbers of people from the congregation, as well as the larger community. Serving this Christmas breakfast has become a family activity in our household, and we enjoy getting up early for the event.
This year, 6 a.m. Christmas morning seemed very early indeed. Christmas Eve included a luncheon celebration with family, Jennie singing in the choir for two services, a potluck in between services, and a late evening party with friends. Then there was wrapping……
Now we settle into the Twelve Days, leading up to Epiphany.
One of our friends celebrates the entire liturgical cycle of Christmas, something in excess of forty days. She recently gifted us with a twelve day candle, which glows festively from a downstairs window. We also approach the last night of Hanukkah. Sometime this past week the men returned from their seclusion in the kivas of the pueblos. The sun has turned and a new season of life is promised.
I do not believe our forefathers worried about the return of the sun.
As one young adult recently noted, once one has lived through five or six winters, one realizes the light will return. Perhaps our seasonal festivals are, at root, expressions of gratitude to the Creator, to Grandfather Fire, and to the plants and animals that feed us. Whether in church, synagogue, or shamanic ritual, we acknowledge the promise of rewed life, the joy of warmth and food in hard times, and our dependence on the great web of life and consciousness. We may also accept the reciprocal nature of all relationship, that we must give back as well as receive. Surely this awareness is a restorative challenge to our arrogance and greed.