Sometime shortly after Thanksgiving, my brain seems to go on vacation. All I can do is wander about, gazing at lights and humming music softly to myself. There may be wisdom percolating in that brain, but getting in touch with it seems to be very effortful. So I just decided to go with the flow, and in that spirit, I offer some of my mental wandering for my last blog post of 2011.
The Dark of the Year and the Dancing Saints
As the days grow shorter and darker, I find myself mentally withdrawing into a kind of warm, personal cave – a cozy one filled with minute lights and small comforts, in which I experience a minimum of demands on me.
Over the years, I have come to realize that the Dark of the Year is not a great time to find solutions to big problems, or to make great creative leaps, much less make magic. It is more like the time experienced by daffodil and tulip bulbs, snug under the ground, quiet, gathering their strength for the big surge that will come as the Earth warms.
No use looking for experiences that will trigger answers to questions – somehow the questions you are asking and answers you are receiving never match. It is instead a time for gathering in experiences that are nourishing and that will fuel that great Springtime leap.
In the spirit of providing ourselves with soul-nourishing experiences, a friend and I went to a Wintersong concert at a church in San Francisco. The concert itself, consisting of songs from Eastern Europe sung by eight charmingly costumed women, was a revelation. We were told that caroling predates Christianity, and consists of songs that fulfill that human need to find light, joy and community in the darker months.
As if that were not enough, the sanctuary in which the concert was held was a revelation in itself. From top to bottom, the walls were covered with vividly colored paintings of saints, as defined by the parishioners, all dancing together. St. Thomas Aquinas, John Coltrane, Florence Nightingale, Anne Frank, Francis of Assisi, Barnabas, Sojourner Truth, Paul of Tarsus, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Graham, and more, all joined hands in the dance. Somehow Lady Godiva was in the mix, too, as were several Seraphim, all similarly clothed (or unclothed). As a friend of mine once remarked, “The Lord certainly loves diversity. He created so much of it.”
It was a magic experience. All of these people, spanning centuries and representing a myriad of different belief systems, somehow came together to create a harmonious whole. It may have been pure fantasy, but it was the most hopeful thing I have seen all year.
May we all dance together as harmoniously in 2012, and may the magic of the holiday season grow in you, and burst forth triumphantly as the light returns.