The Milkweed Diaries

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thoughts on the Season

I've been collecting thoughts on the season that have been accumulating around the edges of my consciousness for the past few weeks.

Here are a few of them:

"Last year, Americans spent $450 billion on Christmas. Clean water for the whole world, including every poor person on the planet, would cost about $20 billion. Let’s just call that what it is: A material blasphemy of the Christmas season."

"But I can’t escape this: we have cut ancient trees to give the children big houses. We poison the fields to give them bread. We manufacture toxins to give them plastic toys. We kill village children to give our children world peace. For the sake of the children, we amass wealth by ransacking the world where they will have to live. What kind of love is this?"


In spite of all this, we still celebrate the return of the sun, the passage of the darkest days of winter and the hope that exists in dark, sad times for the return of light and life:

"Hope is not a prognostication — it's an orientation of the spirit. Each of us must find real, fundamental hope within himself. You can't delegate that to anyone else. Hope in this deep and powerful sense is not the same as joy when things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something to succeed. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It's not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It is this hope, above all, that gives us strength to live and to continually try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now. In the face of this absurdity, life is too precious a thing to permit its devaluation by living pointlessly, emptily, without meaning, without love, and, finally, without hope."
~Vaclav Havel, from an essay I have returned to several times over the years, including on the occasion of Havel's recent death, "Never Hope Against Hope."

I've returned too to my ruminations on the solstice from two years ago ... a time to notice and know darkness, a time to honor the dark, a time to honor the dead. It is a time to sit with the painful and the difficult things, with loss, with despair. It's the dead of winter.

And: it is the birthday of the sun--the birthday of light in the midst of the darkest time of year. A turning point, the return of the light, a time of transformation, a time of hope, and a time of rebirth.

In many ancient traditions, Winter Solstice is a time to honor the way that life emerges from death, light emerges from dark in the cycles of the natural world. A time to look forward to Spring and Summer and the bright, hot months when everything will be in fruit and flower, imagining what will come to be.

And finally, my favorite recent variation on the theme of pagan origins of modern seasonal traditions, "Santa is a Wildman" by Jeffrey Vallance.

Happy Christmas, happy Solstice, sweet bright blessings for these dark days.

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Thank you. I needed this.