I’m a summer girl at heart. I love warmth and light, but there is something delicious about cozying up by the fire on a wild night and making warm nourishing dishes for dinner. And before you know it, the silly season is upon us and we’re racing round like loo-laas trying to create the perfect Christmas experience for one and all.
I was recently on a wonderful women’s yoga retreat in the sublime Cliffs of Moher retreat centre. It was led by an extraordinary teacher, Mari Kennedy, who took us through a weekend of learning about the Celtic calendar and female empowerment. It was called the Samhain Sovereign Women’s weekend. I was hesitant to go on it because it sounded a little to pagan for this nice Christian girl but I was delighted to discover a deeper path into my own spirituality and faith.
This time of year in the Celtic calendar is Samhain (sow-win). It’s the dark time, a time to let the ground lie quiet, let the earth rest as it centres down to wait for spring. It is a time to let things go that no longer serve us, take stock and possibly face up to things that need changing. It’s a time for hibernation, rest and stillness.
Being a Jesus follower, Christmas is obviously a special time but too often all the Christ can get shoved aside in the mad consumerist dash to the finish line of December 25th (not actually Jesus’ birthday, obviously, but a convenient adaptation of ancient festivals of light to point to the Light of the World). Every year, I long for the sacred but too often get swept up in the secular, frantically making many, many Christmas cards and spending a fortune on stamps (I tell ya, it ain’t cheap to send a letter these days!) and panic buying gifts that no one needs or wants.
So this year, I’m making the conscious decision to go into the dark. I’m switching off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This site will be quiet for the next six weeks. There’ll be no new podcasts before Christmas (but please feel free to listen again to all the previous wonderful interviews!) I’m going to limit my perusal of the internet, because let’s face it, after the events of recent weeks there’s only so much fear a person can absorb before they go bat-shit crazy.
I’m going to intentionally attempt to meet some real needs in my local community where I can and for those crises that call to my heart further afield, I’ll donate the money that would otherwise go on Christmas cards and unnecessary trinkets. I think those I normally send cards to won’t be offended and even if they are, well, no one will die!
I’m going into the dark, into the quiet, keeping things close and simple. I’m not afraid because truth and light can always be found in the darkest of places. I will celebrate the Advent virtues of love, hope, joy and peace and Emmanuel, God with us. And as the days begin their stretch toward the spring, I’ll use the renewed energy to create some wonderful new work.
May I invite you to light your fires, stay warm and have a blessed Christmas season.