Last week I talked to a circle of children about the meaning of Advent and how the Ancient people tried to trick the sun into thinking that it was springtime, or summertime.
No matter how hectic our lives are, chances are we try to do something to celebrate the holiday season. Because even if has been bad for us, that must mean that something disappointed us once during a holiday season that was supposed to be about huddling closer in the darkness and figuring out ways to bring comfort into our small and sometimes helpless lives.
I believe we should be like the Ancient peoples and claim this time for what it is – a time to take refuge from the insistence and pressures of culture. We can claim this time to celebrate, yes. The triumph becomes in what we do while waiting. Advent. How do we learn to celebrate with each other even in darkness?
When there is darkness, we cannot see. Or rather, in the dark, it is difficult to see what may be right in front of us. Our eyes cannot make out the shape, the color, the texture or even the location when darkness surrounds. For some while in darkness, what can be least seen is the capacity within ourselves. This is why the darkness is a metaphor for despair, depression.
There is a reason for despairing now. And yet is it possible that there was ever a time in humanity when there wasn’t some sort of despair? A despair for the Ancient people was they noticed the sun going away. They weren’t sure if it was going to come back. They needed it. They were afraid.
How could they know? What was the proof? They couldn’t rush it.
They had to go without the sun’s light and warmth, overflowing their homes, and growing their crops and lighting their way. They had to survive for a period of time without the only thing they thought kept them alive. In time they learned that there are cycles to light and that the darkness provided the chance to learn more skills of how to survive together.
No matter what, we know that Ancient people tried to trick the sun into thinking that it was springtime, or summertime. Or was it that they just figured out ways to trick their own thinking that the feeling of darkness is something to fear?
The ancient people put greens all over the place, they brought trees into their houses, and if they lived at the top of hill -- in order to get the greenery up there, they made it into a circle, a wheel they rolled it up the hill. Over time this became the tradition during the darkness and expectation of new light during advent -- decorating, baking, making music, raising a toast, giving a gift.
The Ancient people didn’t know that the sun would return. If we are the post-modern people, how do we move past of our primal fear that there isn’t a hopeful future?
In isn’t easy. We enact life as a community on our Sabbath, our weekend, our annual seasonal gatherings. Hopefully such gatherings are a space to share the good and sooth the bad. Maybe there is a ritual of some sort – a tradition with an insistence on reminding each other to make what’s simple, abundant and what is abundant simple.
We joyfully live into the trick of caring for and enjoying each other. May we be stewards of some place, some special place that’s open for all to participate with a promise of love with justice and justice with love. We deck the halls.