We are deep amidst the holidays of light. Hanukkah has just ended. The Season of Advent is upon us. This Sunday will be our annual Holiday Concert. In several weeks we will come to the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Followed by Christmas, with our pageant at 4:00 PM and two candlelit services at 9:00 and 11:00. Check your SOUNDINGS for the latest on these many holidays and celebrations.
Unlike last year, this season is in person and online – sort of. COVID is still a concern especially in light of the new Omicron variant. We want to celebrate but there is still some hesitancy, as well there should be; there is much we don’t know.
This much we do know: we need this season of light to remind us why we are still living. We need a reminder that our lives have meaning and that, even in the midst of so much pain, joy can greet us in the light we see around us.
Congregational consultants counsel church leaders not to make too many big plans; plans are likely to change anyway. They also counsel all of us to be easy on ourselves. Coming out of pandemic, no matter how tentatively, often triggers embodied trauma that is expressed in not so nice ways. I have seen more than the usual “holiday rage” in stores and on the road.
What we need is time to stay centered in what this holiday really means: to “breathe gently and feel the natural joy you have for each other’s wellbeing,” as the Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield wrote. Perhaps you can manage that with a candle before a meal. Perhaps you have to wait until a Sunday service. Perhaps you haven’t found that small time and place to find your joy again.
We speak of the Joy of the Season. But joy can be hard to find amidst this struggle we are in. Still, it is there.
I leave you with these words from my colleague and friend Joe Cherry (even his name makes me smile):
Joy is hard. Joy requires us to feel safe enough, to be safe enough, to open to vulnerability. To feel joy you must be brave. Joy is worth the work. You are worth the work. You can start small… and invite joy to be your companion.
Yours Always, Rev. John