My friend Andrew wrote that entry.
I've been thinking of years and time lately. I miss the windows behind my congregation's pulpit, framed by these massive natural tree trunks. I miss watching the seasons change as the minister I've known my whole life speaks softly and with great humour. I miss sitting, back against a smoothed tree trunk at the back of the service area, watching the year go by behind my minister.
(Funny how we put these possessive words on things. She is in no way mine, really; indeed, I'm far more hers than she is mine, for she can carol me into doing anything. She's powerful enough with her integrity and compassion to witness her name as a verb meaning 'to convince someone to do something (s)he might not want to do, but really should anyway, because it is the right thing to do even if it's inconvenient or hard.' So, no, she isn't mine, but for the length of my memory when anyone has mentioned the word 'minister', her face comes to mind--soon joined by Ann's, 'my' forever Religious Educator. In my mind that makes them my ministers - memories claim certain things!)
Winter is my favourite season. I've tried to pretend I don't have one, but the thought of winter during any other season can send shivers of delight and excitement down my spine; to me, that means it's my favourite. Despite not feeling any special religious draw to Christmas (Solstice is when my heart sings), Christmas services have always been my favourite (even above the Chocolate Auction - shhhh!).
So often there is snow outside, or fluttering gently down past the window behind my minister. The darkness outside allows me to focus more clearly on the light and warmth inside--for me, that is the essence of winter: contrast of cold without and warmth within, love throughout. The gentle, soft lighting - I've always loved low lighting. The beautiful passing of love and light that is the candlelight ritual. The songs I know and sing with the voices belonging to my loved ones. One early service, catered to the young folk, and one evening service, for the older congregation members to enjoy. Excited talk of the year to come and celebrations. So many hugs and so much laughter from these people I adore.
The first time I lit the Chalice was a Christmas service. Mum signed me up, and I remembering thinking, "Oh boy, the first time I do it and it has to be such a big one!" I wore that pretty little white dress that I also wore to my family's winter portrait - one of the only years we did that. I'm glad now that my first Chalice lighting was on Christmas, even if it's not 'my' holiday.
Christmas is not what marks the year for me by any belief in a deity or a son, and indeed Solstice is not even my year-mark for the passing of the sun. New Years not for the jump to a new calendar. It's not any particular point. It's the moments that I can feel myself surrounded by love and community, that I ease my way through into understanding of another year to come and the reminder to appreciate the year before for what it was.
I think the moment closest to that is sitting, back to my tree trunk, watching the darkness behind my minister's window and listening to softly-spoken and softly-sung words of love. For me, my experience is not about belief in a certain dogma or creed, it's about the experience of love. In winter I am acutely aware of love. Winter rejuvenates me.
Guess that makes me a deciduous, eh?
This is on my mind because it is autumn, and it is my own version of a child's excitement over Halloween being over (clutching candy) and the knowledge that Christmas (and all other winter holidays) is around the corner. And because I get to go home, physically and spiritually, to the places and atmospheres that nourish me best - where my roots grew!
Winter + time = wintertime! :D