Tag Archive: Christmas


Sulamith ED PICA img_0784-2-achild-is-born1 (3)

 

Christmas! A Child is Born! The Light is Renewed! Gaudete!

(click on Gaudete  below)

Gaudete                                               

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One of the Great Mysteries is the hidden but ever-present spark of Life that resides within the heart of the seed lying deep in the cold soil of Winter. ..the sacred Spark that bursts into the Fire of Life when the birthing…the greening…time is right for outward manifestation.

The Great Mystery for many in this Season of Darkness is the story of the Christ Child …the Light…born of most humble beginning on the earth plane but with a Fire of Destiny that will change much of the consciousness of the world with new teachings of peace, of love, of integrity, of hope, and compassion.

Those of us who are parents, grandparents and relatives know of the great excitement in a family around the birth of a child! ..So tiny, so tender, so vulnerable , so full of new surprises and possibilities. And often so healing, bringing family members who perhaps had fallen away from each other together once again to gather around the manger of “home” to gaze together with wonder on this little gift from heaven, the new divine child, who may bring news for us in our busy, forgetting lives.

What a wonder-full way that God chose to present Divinity to us here on Earth..filled with humility, humanity and a most tender beginning.

God-be-with-us….

(artwork by Sulamith Wulfing)

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Mary's Time for Birthing the Divine Child Draws Near (artwork by Sulamith Wulfing)

Mary’s Time for Birthing the Divine Child Draws Near (artwork by Sulamith Wulfing)

The birthing of every child is a sacred…and dangerous…time in the life of  a woman.  And the birthing of One who has a high destiny is especially in need of divine assistance. Sulamith Wulfing’s artwork captures the sacredness of tonight’s theme, with Mary as Virgin Mother about to birth God in human form, assisted and sheltered by  heaven’s most loving Angel Guardians.

The whole of the Christian story of the birth of Jesus is one of great Mystery…a story of wondrous Miracles all along the way,  and the movement into fulfillment of Great Destiny.

It is not possible for any of us to fulfill our own high Destiny (and we are all called to it in some unique way) without the assistance of the Divine in our lives. That is one of the many messages of this holy night…to know that we might say “yes” to the birthing of our own God-given talents and the highest destiny and goodly purpose of our lives, and to believe that God-Within-Us wants to be expressed in the world through our humanity and our “Yes”.

Tonight, in this Great Story of the coming of the Cosmic Christ, we wait…we wait…with Mary…..

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

Little Solstice Bonfire

December Mysteries

December. Cold. Dark. Very dark. How do we navigate through the loss of Light and Warmth in these northern  climates that have such dramatic changes in Seasons?

There are three paths which we are pondering here about how we navigate through the Winter season especially through the month of December when that darkness and cold make us long for the rememberance and hope for returning connection, light and warmth..the return of HOPE itself.  Part 1 being the most immediate and superficial, “The Commercial Path”, Part 2 being the  creative Cultural Path of Beauty, and finally, but perhaps most meaningfully Part 3, the Path of Sacred Mysteries.

Sacred Mysteries are those deeper times  and experiences  in which we really do not have control and for which we have no pat answers or explanations. Sometimes we experience dreams or even “miracles” or epiphanies which defy reason. In response to this, we attempt to create understanding and meaning through stories and myths that call us inward to ponder deeply the meaning of our life here. These myths and stories help us to find answers to important questions like where did we come from, how did we get here, who do we belong to in both the visible and invisible worlds, what gifts are we suppose to share with others,  how should we love, and how might we connect to each other, the Earth and he Divine. The Commercial Path is but an empty illusory fix and diversion, fleeting and ultimately meaningless. The Cultural Path inspires and uplifts, but the Path of Sacred Mysteries is transformative and can change our lives and our way of living and loving,  forever.

 

Angel by Ironshod

Angel by Ironshod

Around the time just before the Solstice this month, I will be posting until Christmas several of these Mysteries…The Solstice, Hannukah, Mary of Advent, and Mary and the Child of Christmas, each one a doorway to greater connection to between Soul, the Divine and the Earth. Please join me in the spirit of all Mystery in pondering and prayerfully celebrating these Lights in the Darkness.

Veriditas!  Christine, the Greening Spirit  (Check also Paths 1 and 2! )

Miracle of Frost on Glass photo credit CP Green

Miracle of Frost on Glass
photo credit CP Green

 

Capricorn Tree

Oh the gifts we give and get throughout the holiday season!  Sometimes they truly fulfill a desire, sometimes they elicit that weird smile that accompanies the phrase…” uh, gee…thankssssssss..uh…so much?”  and the confused inner question (“what were they thinking????). Holidays require a sense of humor!

As a piano/music teacher for over 30 years, I have received my share of musical Christmas ornaments for the tree, mugs with the musical staff imprinted on the sides, curvy black and white keyboard flower vases  and treble clef earrings. All gifts from appreciative students and their thoughtful parents accepted with grace and gratitude.

Not all gifts from family who are not with each other for most of the year are deeply personal although the gifting itself is sweet … another pair of fuzzy socks, a gift card to the supermarket, or a stick-on-the-wall light that comes on with a mere tap so you don’t fall down the cellar stairs.

But sometimes, there is a very special gift that is deeply personal, coming from the heart and hands of the giver and sent on purpose with love and directly to the heart of the receiver.

In my daughter M’s last year at an away-college, she would spend her evenings with her boyfriend who was a landscape architect major at the “studio” where the students worked on their design projects for the semester. A large long room for setting out displays and installations was the place for creativity.

Somewhere over the years I had waxed poetic over the little artsy crafted trees in specialty gift stores…some with leaves of jade,  some with bare branches. And “M” had that memory tucked away on file in her “about Mom” data bank.

That holiday season I received one of the best gifts of all time:  a  hand-made wire solstice tree on a base of slate. M had crafted this over the course of that semester in the evenings at the landscape architecture studio…long 10 foot length pieces of the thinnest wire, twisted and wrapped with care into this little tree, it being naked and bare in the winds of winter, branches blown sideways into the elements. No craft kit, no instructions to follow… a creation from herself, a gifted crafter who loves to figure these kinds of things out as a puzzle. The tree was fixed into the base of slate with the help of her boyfriend’s father, a dentist who had some other tools and crafty ideas himself.

My surprise and delight was just what she had envisioned…! What a gift!

Each year this tree comes out onto my piano in December, with a red tinsel garland around the base and the single tiny red bulb hung in its center..so vulnerable, so simple and so ready to be present first to December and the dark and cold, then to the Solstice with that tiny ball of red..a berry of aliveness when everything is asleep underground, and finally as a reminder to keep the true spirit of Christmas by being still and present through simplicity and love.

Twenty years have gone by since I received this treasure…and today, on my daughter’s birthday…I send her a  BIG hug and another THANK YOU for this little wire Solstice Tree… and for her own beautiful self who was our Christmas gift the year she “arrived”.  Happy Birthday, Dearie, with love!

From Christine (Mom), The Greening Spirit

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Me and M on her FIRST day of school (kindergarten) sooooo long ago!

 

 

 

 

 

Warmth, Love, Hospitality Reside Here!

                                                  THE SECULAR PATH: Cultural Rituals of Beauty_______________

It is dark. It is cold. It is harsh outside and the colors of Nature..black, white, grey and brown..are not hospitable. The sometimes death-like stillness can often be unnerving, altho on a good day or after a blanketing snowfall, the silence can be exquisitely peaceful. There can be all sorts of winter fun, but it is the darkness…the  cold and long nights… that wear us down,  as we try to remember with hope, that in time,  warmth, light and the greening will return.

The Secular Path and its Cultural Rituals of Beauty have much to offer us in the Dark Season, starting around the Solstice time and through the next few weeks of celebratory events, for it is at this precise time that we may begin to lose hope of the Sun’s return in spring, and we must make the choice to either “be Scrooge”, or to seek, find or create meaning and beauty until then!

There is a thinking about the word “Secular” that often places it on a continuum with “Sacred” on the high end, and “Secular” on the less admirable end. But as I am using it, it is the word that refers to various ethnic, historical and contemporary seasonal traditions that are expressed through gifts of the creative imagination and the arts. Its myths and practices are not just based on a particular religious or scriptural tradition, but rather draw from the experiences of the human appreciation for the spirit of the natural season, our common humanity, and the attitudes of generosity and goodwill in dark times.

If in fact there is a continuum, I would put the Commercial Path on the low end, The Sacred Path of Mystery on the high end and The Secular Path in the middle. The middle of the continuum is the proper place for the Secular Path, for its arts and creativity can be tilted either towards the Commercial Path as a tool of  Illusion and Persuasion for consumeristic ends, or incorporated towards the Path of Sacred Mystery to Inspire, especially through the arts. In the middle, it serves as a Path of  Beauty, Fun, Celebration, Surprise and Childlike Delight all by itself.

The Secular Path  during the dark season offers us refreshment,imaginative through art, music, myth, storytelling, theatre, ritual,  decorations There is a spirit of generosity, entertainment, and a touch of magic to tide us over until the harshness of the dark and cold gives way to the more lasting light of spring.

Some “goodies” of the Secular Path of the Winter Season are community tree lightings, writing Christmas cards for the yearly re-connection /update with friends and loved ones, festive decorations  indoor and out, photos with Santa, parties and gatherings of a celebratory nature, performances of plays, ballets and theatre like the yearly Nutcracker Suite, The Christmas Carol, The Christmas Pops, beloved literature like A Child’s Christmas in Wales, contemporary films like “The Polar Express” and “The Snowman”, food and toy drives for the needy, imaginative and creative art installations and non-religious but seasonal music of all kinds from the lovely Ukranian Bell Carol and medieval motets to the “Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire”. Something for everybody in the spirit of the interplay of dark and light, cold and warmth, isolation and community, lack and bounty. Goodwill and “Light-ness” in general.

Solstice/SOULstice and music, theater,  and the two weeks of celebration and community that follow is a rich time that can bring deeper meaning to our Lives and our journey through the ongoing cycles of the year.

For a wonderful example of Secular creativity, delight and surprise..very techno-contemporary..check these links to experience a wonderful artistic creation for this Season of Darkness. Enjoy!

“Snowflake and Bubble”   (load fully..there is music and movement!) :   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_9AYqhaw64

Random Act of Culture Flash Mob.  (This one merges the Secular and Sacred Paths.  No matter what religious tradition, this is Beauty, taking place at a  secular venue:
 Movie BBC:  “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”  by Dylan Thomas:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrLDaAG7j_o&list=RDHv4-sgFw3Go&index=2
Virtuosic piano arrangement of “I Saw Three Ships” by Maestro Jarrod Radnich  (Secular moving towards the Path of Sacred Mysteries)
Film,  The Snowman:
From Christine, The Greening Spirit
christine_phoenix_green

 

 

I was, at the original writing of this Winter series, facilitator of a Centering Prayer/Peer Spiritual Direction Circle “bequeathed” to me by Brother John of the Christian Brothers who moved out of state to a new assignment. For our theme that month, we pondered this series that I created and offered in 2010 to a local Church community. It is being reposted here again this season and I am happy to share it once again here on the Greening Spirit….

 

 

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picture: Our prayer circle in my living room

 

 

 

 

The original post below: 

Part 1- The Commercial Path

At the request of Reverend Betty Kornitzer, the  minister of our local Unitarian Universalist Church, I have been offering a monthly series simply called Spiritual Deepening. This month, our topic was Solstice/SOULstice : Season of Darkness, Season of Light which was a program..part theatre, part ritual, part mini-workshop..that I wrote in 2002 for another venue but was renewed for use in sacred space.

Presented in the darkened sanctuary of this Unitarian home, the participants traveled  ritually from darkness (the black un-lit hallway)  into light (a twinkly-light draped altar and single lantern in the darkened sanctuary)  and then back into the darkness which in truth environmentally, still remains with us until spring begins to awaken several months from now. It can be a difficult time for many, these long dark days and nights..and yet right here in the middle of that black starkness, we as humans have always sought ways to re-imagine, remember and re-create the Light that gives us hope, and greening of body, mind, and spirit. We are, at Solstice, precisely where both Dark and Light meet and interface as equal qualities, giving us a momentary reprieve from the Sun’s absence and a blessing of hope for its eventual return.

As I prepared my teaching for that evening, I became aware of how many ways that people and cultures deal with the Dark Season, and for the purpose of the pondering and meditation of this topic, I became aware of three primary paths for moving through this time. They are not isolated from one another, and in many instances they somewhat overlap, but they each deal with the primal unsettledness of “the dark” in unique and specific ways, and how we each choose to move through it, hopefully in a conscious and awakened manner that  authentically serves and energizes us. I found in the participants that this pondering gave them new insights into what was meaningful, forgotten or of no authentic use for them.

The three paths to navigating through the Dark Time of this season which we considered were: The Path of Sacred Mystery,  The Secular Path, and The Commercial Path.

I start with a reflection on The Commercial Path and how at this time of the year so many of us are pressured or  compulsed to fill the “cold dark space”  without and within ourselves with THINGS that are promoted, pushed, and advertised all around us through media of all kinds..television, websites, catalogues..as the “must haves” to make us feel better, to give us a “lift”, to divert our attention from our primal vulnerability in Winter to Nature’s powerful cyclic teachings which tell us that this is the time to pull in, to be still for germination and clarity, to rest and dream of how we might transform and grow in the course of the next year. But given that we live in a materialistic culture,  the socially-sanctioned “remedy” for our discomfort is to flock in droves at relentless speed to what Episcopal priest Matthew Fox calls “The Church of America” – The Mall.  Sad? Lonely? Cold? Feeling impoverished and hopeless? Un-nerved by the long dark nights? Find the Light! and Activity! Buy your way out of this discomfort! “Get yours now!”  Go shopping! (and support your country and the gross national product index too!).

While genuine generosity and thoughtful gifts of love and gratitude are part of the wondrous authentic rituals for bringing surprise and delight to friends and family at this time, the purchasing and accumulation of (more) “stuff” to fill in the holes never comforts us for very long. And from what I hear from those around me, the running around to complete the tasks of a long list of gift-giving within a very tight time-frame when we are already biologically tired from our work schedules and Nature’s demanding invitation to withdraw and rest during this season, often adds to an already draining sense of exhaustion. The Commercial Path says buy!, buy NOW! and buy “the more, the merrier!”   Merchandise, not Mystery!

It can be an act of radical kindness to yourself to adopt the motto “Less is More” and ponder what would truly bring the gift of savouring to yourself and those you authentically wish to surprise with gifts. It can also be an act of radical kindness and elegance to make your own gifts, or to create a gift of pure simplicity.

The invitation here is not to condemn but to awaken and identify what is  truly nourishing for each of us, to discern what brings authentic meaning and self-expression into our days and nights, and  to know what  truly restores, inspires and brings peace and energy into our lives… To be aware of where, when and how we are diminished and robbed of the vital energy (chi) that allows us to live fully and richly in the present moment while  trying to tend to baubles and glitz. ..and to be able to tell the difference between dream (that which comes from within ourselves) and illusion (that which is advertised from outside of ourselves), which sometimes can only be untangled while sitting “in the dark, by  the candlelight of the heart”. Solstice/Soulstice.  (Christine Phoenix-Green, the Greening Spirit)

From Christine, The Greening Spirit

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Part 2  coming tomorrow : The Secular Path (Cultural Rituals of Beauty)

Preparing the Solstice/Soulstice Altar

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