***The last few days It feels as if I have been searching for something. These times of transition like the Winter Solstice can bring about an unsettling and I am feeling it. This post was written December 20, 2015 and it conjures a lovely memory for these dark winter days. Memory and deep hope.
Last night my family and I attended a performance of “Between the Worlds” at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. For as long as I have lived in the Twin Cities, I have loved their work and the depth of their creativity. I must say that I have learned as much about the importance of ritual and how to create it from these artists committed to craft and social justice as I ever learned in seminary. I know that the work I do on a weekly basis would somehow be less if not for the inspiration of Sandy Spieler and her troupe of those dedicated to what can be done with simple objects…paper, wheat-paste, paint, sticks and poles, and a little wire. It is magic they create, a magic that draws the audience into an encounter with Mystery.
Last night’s performance was a celebration of these dark days we call Advent in the Christian household. But these are days that have been honored throughout time by cultures who lived closer to the earth than we now do. Those who lived in the rhythms of the seasons and who patterned their lives around the give and take of the Sun and the Moon. Those who knew in their bodies the power of both darkness and light. As people whose lives are now dictated by the flip of a switch, those who believe they have control of light and its arrival, we have lost the wisdom of those ancient ones. I personally believe we are lesser for it.
A poem by Marilyn Krysl graced the program for the show, a few of the final words I will share here:
the moon stops the fountain of your sleep/ and drives you out to wander and pace/ wide awake and burning, mouth dry eyes burning/ so that you are forced to acknowledge your own body/ and to remember the body is holy/ and to remember the body is one body/ and this earth the one holy body you cannot desecrate with impunity/ so that you understand that if you deny the dark/ you make a mockery of light.
These words draw me not only to the gifts of darkness and of light but also to the thing we say we are celebrating when we lift our candles high on Christmas. Incarnation. The belief that God shows up in the body. In the body of a newborn baby in Bethlehem. The body of the grown up Way-Shower, Jesus, who held before those in his time the power of both darkness and light and invites us to do the same.
Incarnation is both specific and individual and also communal. The Holy was born in a stable more than 2000 years ago. And the Holy is born in us when we remember and act as if we remember that ‘ the body is one body’. We are inextricably connected together as humans and with the earth which is our home by the One who created us to be reflections of the Sacred in the world. To do so is an honoring of what it means to be the face of the on-going Incarnation.
In these last days before Christmas, we would be wise to notice the play of dark and light. In these last days before the Winter Solstice, we would be wise to watch how the darkness holds the space for the Light to be born. These are precious days that hold us ‘between the worlds’. They are pure gift of grace and promise.
Stay awake! The Light is coming.