Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter solstice

"Embrace the darkness", she exhorted.

She had just completed a mini-lecture on winter solstice; it's origins, history and how (WAAAAYY back in the day - 1400-1500's) Christianity combined it's beliefs with established pagan traditions as a way of ensuring it's acceptance by the early Celts and Druids.

It was informative and she was knowledgeable... but I couldn't help but think of an experience I had with GI Joe shortly after the death of his father.

The first Ash Wednesday after his dad died, GI Joe was attending a sermon for kids at the altar about what the imposition of ashes signified and why we did it.
The Rector giving the lesson was a woman he'd known for years, one of my best friends.

Right after she got through the explanation - that it's a way for us to remember that God formed us from dust of the earth and to it, we will return - GI Joe stood up and started to walk away.

When Susie asked him where he was going, my 5 yr old replied "Thanks, but I just saw my father put dead in the ground; I don't really need another reminder".

I understand today is the day when daylight is at it's shortest since our planet is in its furthest rotation away from the sun. I appreciate that 'the ancients' (why do I feel uncomfortably like I could fit into that category!) feared that the failing light would never return unless they intervened with anxious vigil and antic celebration.

Did you know the Mesopotamians are believed to have been the first to have engaged in a 12 day festival designed to help the god, Murdak, "tame the monsters of chaos" for 1 more year.
To which I say, "Nice try, but it didn't work!"

I've seen several monsters of chaos in the past few weeks and, not only have they not been tamed, they're still going strong!

We have all kinds of wonderful ways to ward off the darkness this time of year and many of them work, at least, temporarily.

When I was a child, confusing, scary and hurtful things happened when the lights went out.

I have worked VERY hard to overcome a lingering fear of the dark and have succeeded all too well, according to family and friends - many of whom ask for a miners helmet when they enter my house since it's generally so dimly lit.

(Can you say overcompensation?)

I don't think there's a single person working in the ER who isn't painfully aware that there are forces of darkness at work in the world.

And, for all the beautiful ways we try to fool ourselves and keep it at bay, it's still there.

The darkness that lives within human beings makes itself known in both blatant and insidious ways.
So, for now, I'll continue to combat the darkness with the only means that I've found to be effective.

I don't understand 'solstice worshippers'.
Do some folks really need a whole day to recognize, honor or celebrate the darkness?

"Embrace the darkness."
Thanks, but I've seen children beaten to death by people who supposedly 'loved' them.
I don't need another reminder.

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