Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A stillness of the sun

This is, I suppose, where I'm supposed to write something profound and moving in regards to Christmas. Honestly, I've always found Christmas to be a bit overwhelming--even seen as a time in which to introspect on the "true" meaning of the season. Because, being me, I find plenty of time to introspect about all things spiritual (and everything else) throughout the year.

There are things I still love about Christmas, but they are small things and possibly not so much about Christmas in specific as about my need to stop and listen for the divine on a semi-regular basis: I like to sit quietly in a darkened room and gaze at the tree lights. I like to watch the Christmas specials--the old ones, like Rudolph and Frosty and Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or the one with the mice who save Christmas by making, breaking, and fixing a clock--and let myself get caught up in the magic so deeply that I still tear up in all the right places. I like the pristine cold air at midnight, and the hymns belted out with more enthusiasm than accuracy at midnight mass. There is something in the air at moments like those, something I probably can't explain no matter how many words I throw around. It has nothing to do with religion or even with Christmas, and everything to do with feeling, with no proof and absolute certainty, in spite of my constant struggle with depressive tendencies and the always-nagging question "why?", that there is somewhere, somehow, an answer, even if I don't know it yet. That there is some kind of divine spark inside each of us. That there is light, and on my best days maybe I even manage to help spread it around.

On a recent trip to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis with my boys and some friends, we watched a planetarium show called "Season of Light." I learned that the word "solstice" means "still sun," and chills went down my spine as they went on to talk about how the earliest solstice rituals were meant to welcome or even attract the sun to return to us. There were images of druids building bonfires during the darkest, coldest nights--despite the dark and the cold, with certainty that the sun was still there and would return.

Happy holidays to everyone.

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