“For it is by faith alone that the Heart hears its own song.”
~ True Kelly
It’s Christmas Day. The solstice, nature’s turning toward the light, was a few days ago. A tad more than a week before that, the ‘full cold moon.’ This season is a portent time for the ancients.
Of all the December full moon’s many names, I like long cold moon the best. Long for the long nights in the northern hemisphere where I live. And long for how it lingers high above the western horizon before it sets at dawn.
I was once a night person. I loved it when the din of the world softened and the distractions of daytime settled down, I quieted. Whatever frolic I engaged in felt contained.
In the early nineties I moved to the West where far horizons stretched in all directions each day. I became a forever lover of the dawn sky. The earth to sky changing light & color felt magical, special, as if just for me & the birdies singing the sun up. It felt private, like a special connection with my spirit that let me see other realms beyond obvious sight-lines.
Horizons weren’t part of my everyday before that. I lived in low lands, surrounded by trees. And only on visits to the ocean, where I’d stare out to the earth’s curve, did I have that experience. Or, when driving down highways cleared from forests. I still prefer dawns to sunsets. And strangely, this winter I’m embracing the dark nights once again.
My mind settles & drifts in the deep dark these days. I linger in bed, rise later each morning. It’s a time of remembering for me, as I watch the world spin and look ahead.
Remembering. . .the year a winter storm knocked the power out and ice kept me trapped nearly 6 days. I learned the torture of deep cold then, which wasn’t what I thought.
I lived on the steep side of a mountain in Appalachia, the neighborhood carved from the forest, trees still surrounding the yards. I looked out to sky, and across the treetops to the big red tiled roof of the famous Grove Park Inn (Asheville, NC). It was otherworldly in the snow, like a giant hobbit cottage from a Thomas Kinkade painting.
I soon learned torture was not the frigid air, or the shiver in the bones. It was tactile depravation of warmth. Everything touched being so very, very cold –– my skin, clothes, the bed covers I snuggled under, the book I tried to read to pass the time, the spoon & fork, the glass on my fingertips and lips.
Today, whenever I see someone on a street corner rubbing their hands together, I think how their cold nights must feel. I didn’t have the right high-tech gloves, and neither do they.
I’m remembering the Joy I once felt at Christmas, as well. The carols, lights, and decorated trees I loved. Finding personal gifts for each person on my list, knowing they’d love them. Giving them. Remembering now because that joy was lost for years, buried beneath a vast grief since 2006 when my son left for China-Taiwan, and stayed.
He’d been the Heart center of thirty-five Christmas Eves.
The first year without him I bought a gorgeous tree like I always did. And brought the ornaments in from storage. They never left their boxes. The tree never held one light.
The following year, thinking I might find energy for something smaller, I hung a fresh garland of greenery over the double french doors between the kitchen & the room where the tree would’ve been. It also remained bare.
Each year I tried to feel my way back to the Joy I once felt. I went to holiday concerts I’d once loved (Messiah, the symphony, chorales). I attended Nutcracker performances, and traveled to places & cities that made a big deal of the season with decorations & events. I planned holiday meals with friends, served food to the homeless, went to Pueblo dances. I made reservations for special holiday meals at fine hotels & restaurants, and even collected a new ornament or two.
Grief is a strange familiar, tho. What I saw is how its character changes over time. Now, for me, it’s calmed to a quiet companion. And something sparked this year.
I realized I didn’t want to be alone at Christmas, not even over a special meal in a crowd of people under twinkling lights. And I felt an urge for a table-top tree, considered where I’d put it. Until one day, when the fragrance of small rosemary herb trees in Trader Joe’s made me pause, and I tucked one under my arm.
The best is I put out a short string of lights where I see them dozens of times a day. Color & light talking to my Soul.
The card on the table in the picture above is from my son. Something broke between us over the years, causing a deep rift. So, when I saw he wrote the note inside, and read the salutation personal to me, holding great meaning no one else would know, it felt like a blessing & gift.
What I’ve learned is. . .follow your heart in grief, as well as in Joy & other things. Be present with it. Let it be what it is, and recognize it can change.
Because sometimes the brilliant constellation of who we are + the brilliant stars of those we’re closest to are so strong, that when one light of the constellation winks out. . .or comes back. . .a shift can occur that’s inexplicable, even magical. Like Grace.
Love is the Spirit of the Season.
May Love fill your heart & home. . .however it may.
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