December’s Winter Solstice marked the longest night of the year. The ending before the beginning. The darkness before the widening light.
All around us, Nature shares the wisdom of emptiness, dormancy and surrender. Trees empty their branches of leaves. They channel their strength inward, and they let go.
To be empty is to be open. To be empty is to be full of possibility. Waiting for birth.
Harvest has finished, whether you mark this week as the birth of Jesus or the historic celebration of the sun god Mithras. (If ancient Rome combined the two ceremonies, we can better understand why Christ’s Mass occurs in winter. According to a 2009 article in History Today, the festivals of Mithras and of Saturnalia are both contenders for this theory of celebratory compromise.)
It’s a time of waiting, watching and resting. Expecting goodness.
Each December in suburban Atlanta, animated white deer decorated many lawns in my old neighborhood. Then a creative, perhaps bored, soul crept around at night sculpting the deer into postures of copulation and mischief.
It wasn’t me, but I found the subsequent scandal quite entertaining.
In my 20 years of living in other states, I’d forgotten Alabama’s affection for large creche scenes, called “manger scenes” down here. And when I drove past one large Birmingham-area display this week, I rolled my eyes. For Pete’s sake, I thought. Someone must have stolen the Baby Jesus. Then I remembered: During Advent, a beautiful Christian season of worship, repentance and expectation, some families choose to leave the manger empty until Christmas Eve to symbolize a night of Holy Birth.
Winter invites us, whether spiritual or religious, to get cozy and make space for a miracle.
In this time of holidays and hibernation, may you feel Love moving in unexpected ways.
May the Light of Peace illuminate your path.
And, as someone told me recently, “Better days are ahead.” Amen.