Amazing how the journeys along the way feel as though they belong to another lifetime. Walking into the Grand Canyon? Yeah, we did that long long ago, right? The shimmering red rock of the Grand Staircase Escalante and Canyonlands? Kayaking outside Prescott? A walk on the immigrant trail, along the Mexican border? Las Vegas? Really? Even Death Valley seems years ago.
Now our world is beautiful snow and Christmas with family. Since the day after we arrived, the cold stuff has been falling. Daily, Jack and I go Walking in Thigh-High Winter Wonderland. I have stopped Dreaming of a White Christmas for fear the Universe will respond with more! It is good. It tells my body that So This Is Christmas—even though it has traveled through all of these diverse climates.
I can never fully shed the irony and paradox of Christmas. But here, with daughters and Will’s family, we are on the edge of Forest Service land, so the view out the window sweeps toward trees and river and mountains. The snow slows us from dashing to get one last thing, and makes us all feel cozy to be inside. And, cheesy as it can be, it is also somehow profound. This time of year has always been so sacred that not even the vast engines of commercialization can bulldoze it. The Winter Solstice is a moment on the wheel of time that simply stops in the northern hemisphere for just a few days. The Pause. We have passed through the portal of the longest night of the year and before the sun begins to really gather steam, there is just this one long deep breath where not much moves in the celestial reckoning of our lives. For us, this year, this is most definitely the Pause, the intermission of our travels. That is part of the time warp or head spin that I go through, for Solstice got unseated by Christmas, and so I always feel like I am secretly observing another holiday which is hidden in the Christmas language.
For thousands of years, humans have gathered at this time to hold each other close and dear, for the winter’s dark and cold remind us of how precious we are to each other. We struggle with the awkwardness of merging and preserving traditions and all the endless lists of what must be done, not to mention the over-spending of the season in an effort to say I Love You. And, for our family, at least , one of the favorite activities of the holiday, is the sitting around, preferably in jammies or lounging outfits, surrounded by food and drink and presents or wrappings. Every year, I simultaneously think—ack, ALL THIS STUFF and oh, it’s The Pause, as we snuggle in, and time slows.
The 2012 energy of the Shift of the Ages became trivialized, like the fierce and shining Irish tribe Tuatha Dé Danann that morphed into Leprechauns. And after awhile, we don’t even remember the original legends that fed and nourished us. We run around calling it the End of the World, either sarcastically or for real, and we lose the chance to really reflect on the Turning Point where we are now. Will it be business as usual or a shift to a future that could actually sustain our children? All I know now is that, though the prospect seems dim for thoughtful positive change, we must focus on the best in humans and the beauty of the earth. We must love it, even if it feels hopeless. Know it, love it, don’t be afraid to feel it. Move to what brings you joy and try to stay there as much as you can. Vow not to hurt yourself or the earth. Find a humble way to do service. And here, unexpectedly, this pagan-Jesus loving person finds deep comfort and inspiration in his story and life. Which brings me back to Christmas and the incongruity and congruity of the stories.
And So This Is Christmas (my favorite “carol”). Especially for all of those who lost their loved ones, I know this humble and familial scene is exactly the one we will all most miss when it disappears. For those who are alone, or in pain, or impoverished or homeless—it seems fitting to say God Bless, without even being one who thinks of an entity to match the God part, I think it is the way of saying the Divine loves you, remember that. Life loves you. The Earth loves you. YOU. All of you. All of us. And I feel you, touch you, and hold you too in my heart. I fold you into this scene and wish the same for you.