I hear there was a secret chord
“that David played and it pleased the Lord”
Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah beautifully sung by an eight year old girl
The end of the year is fast approaching. All life is clouded by desire and thus the soul is blinded. That is so true and it has been a very challenging year for me, but I know there is the bigger picture, and that we are all part of the light and the eternal “Om” and “I am.”
The Winter Solstice is approaching. Celts and other peoples from ancient times onward, celebrated that time of profound slumber, the longest night, the death before rebirth and, as a good blogging friend, Andrea, on her fine blog Harvesting Hecate , has pointed out, the time of dreaming.
As we get older that time seems to move more quickly. I often think of life as motion forward into the future, the universe and our lives playing out in a time capsule. When we look out into the far regions of space we see the past. The paradox is, that in the larger scheme of the cosmos we are actually moving backward, away from the beginning of time (in astronomy -the event horizon) which implies to both astronomers and priests that there was a beginning and it was a powerful blast of illumination from a cosmic and divine trumpet!
So as the galaxies, like fading notes of light are waved away from that receding moment by the hand of the invisible conductor, our own tiny human perspective perceives ourselves as being beckoned forward into the future. We are leaving the past and approaching a new day, a departure and an arrival, a new season, a new year, a new turning. Yet we do not always go freely. Memories and experiences can weigh us down into silence. We have to turn them into songs and sing our stories, whether “broken or holy” as we journey.
A time of celebration and gratitude
The Jewish feast of lights, Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the ritual lighting of the Menorah that lasted for eight days when there had only been enough oil for one day.
The midwinter Yuletide later called Christmastide stemmed from a much earlier Germanic or Norse pagan celebration of the wild hunt, and the god Odin.
Then there is Father Christmas, and St. Nick or Santa Claus symbolizing good will and generosity toward others. Father Christmas was a personification that arose from old English folkloric tradition. I always think of him as the spirit of a festive Christmas Present as portrayed in Dickens’s “Scrooge.” St. Nicholas actually lived in Asia Minor in the third century CE and was known for his gift giving and miracles. He is not only the patron saint of children but also of sailors and repentant thieves.
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
the broken or the holy Hallelujah
and even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Beautiful violin rendition of Hallelujah by Cohen
Many pagan traditions were incorporated into Christianity, culminating in the feast of the birth of the Christ Child and a time of light, rejoicing and hope.
Now, the early church fathers were no slouches. Back in ancient Rome, the end of the year was marked by the feasting, music and gift giving of Saturnalia in honour of the god Saturn. This was a time when slaves became equals with their owners and masters would even wait on their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days!” Even though we know Christ was not born on Dec 25th the bishops of Rome knew that the people liked their celebration so there is strong evidence to suggest it was transformed into the new Christian celebration.
And let us not forget the meaning of the word “Christmas” and the profound impact of a poor baby from Bethlehem who became the Prince of peace, a young holy man who challenged the hypocrisies of the day, the one who said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and told us to”love one another,” even our enemies.
(7 year old gospel singer sings O holy night- so sweetly beautiful!!) Rhema Marvanne
That message of peace rings out poignantly and sadly in today’s world. How little we learned. Thank you Lord of song.
I wish all my blogging friends the peace and joy of the season, with reflection and renewal. I hope all your celebrations will be happy ones and that the new year will bring about positive changes in our lives both personally and globally.
My Christmas Stories:
and if you like stories, check out my Alice’s Twinkling Winter Tales – also on sidebar