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02 November 2010 @ 04:37 pm
Little Window

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
Feather Quill: Stock thistledownfeatherxquill on November 3rd, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
Metaphysical thoughts like this - about cultural rituals and the connections they have, in our minds, to the landscape around us - always absolutely fascinate me. The seasons especially, for me, because I have read so often about the connection between Christmas as a cultural or spiritual holiday for people, and winter.

But my Christmas has never been in winter. Christmas, to me, is a flimsy dress and bare feet. It's cracking open a lobster on Christmas day, oysters and salads and cold drinks in glasses clinking with ice cubes. It's dipping my feet in the pool after lunch, way too full to go in. It's the lead-up to the season - days gradually warmer and longer, Christmas parties on balmy summer nights. Shedding winter jackets and the heavy fabric of winter as the season, and the fun associated with it, approaches.

I don't celebrate the holidays religiously, either, but there is always a certain sense of time passing when you reach that milestone each year. It's funny you mention Autumn and Halloween, too, because for me the Austumn holiday is Easter. I find it interesting, and I have to wonder how much of our understanding of an occasion and its symbolic meaning to us is formed by our relationship to our environment. It occurs to me that, in the Northern Hemisphere, people must associate Easter with the warming and the rebirth they see and feel around them (I did spend an Easter in the Northern Hemisphere, but since I spent Good Friday in Amsterdam and then flew to Belfast on Easter Saturday and had my Easter Sunday breakfast of a salami stick and a Cadbury Creme Egg in my bed, one of twenty in the dorm of the hostel I was staying at, I don't think I really appreciated the spiritual nature of the holiday at all), but here in the Southern Hemisphere, Easter is the crisp mornings slowly waking into warm days and the summer going to sleep. I wonder how different the rituals of Christianity (and even the earlier pagan religions) would look if they had been practised in the Southern Hemisphere instead of the North.
Kiwi Crocuscranky__crocus on December 2nd, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC)
Your last statement makes me wonder as well. I've always been known for associating things with the changing of the seasons; it's how I ground and centre myself.

I must say, Easter isn't really my thing at all. I just sit and eat lots of chocolate. :Þ And, really, a day that I sit down and eat lots of chocolate any time I've accomplished something important.

I love your descriptions!
gerristgerrist on November 4th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Lovely post Kiwi. Carol and Ann are great gifts, as is our wonderful sanctuary. We are the lucky ones to have such a view.

Andy's "Little Window" was also quite moving. Transitions are quite particular times (I'd know!). And they have lasting effects ... Dad & I both still miss "summers off" from our youth. With you and Alex we tried to recreate a fair amount of "summer's ON - vacation time" whenever we could. Do you remember counting the days we spent up in Maine? We were up there for 21 days one year and 22 another! Very summer's-off-like : ) And I believe we went to Sandbridge on at least one of those years as well!

Times are different now, but we grab a day, like yesterday, when we can and look forward to the Christmas break when you and Alex will come home for a while. Dad will probably insist on another way too big tree and then the fighting about lights, etc. will ensue. We'll be inspired to have a warm glow here for you to come home to.

XO Mom

Kiwi Crocuscranky__crocus on December 2nd, 2010 09:40 pm (UTC)
It wouldn't be the festivus time without a too-big tree and fighting about lights! I'll appreciate a warm glow when I get home. (: