Dec 15, 1994
Winter has always been a tough time for humans. Food and light are at a minimum, darkness and cold at a maximum. Our ancestors found it absolutely essential to huddle together and share what little they possessed in order just to survive. They recognized the necessity of being generous to one another in this season. They also knew that their lives and the lives of plants and animals were intimately tied to the energy from the sun. To insure that the sun would stop its descent into the southern sky and the days would increase in length, our predecessors lit great fires. These were fires to placate the sun god.
For the past 5 years at my son’s school we observe a similar rite the Advent spiral. On the floor of the large meeting room the parents make a giant spiral out of pine boughs, fir branches, holly twigs and Pyracantha. Interspersed in the greenery are ornaments, seashells, crystals, bones and other beautiful artifacts of nature.
We begin at sunset. In the darkness and cold of that large empty room all the parents gather and chant a simple song. One by one each child walks alone holding an unlit candle, is safely impaled in an apple. They slowly spiral to the center where but a single flame burns. Each one lights their own candle and places it carefully amidst the greenery and slowly walks back out, the parents still singing. And so it goes through all the kids, at the end of the ceremony the room is full of light, warmth and love.In our fragmented world full of instant subdivisions, constant migrations and mobile communities, real neighborhoods seem like an anachronism. But on this solstice through the connecting thread of children several families came together and for a moment had a center, a focus, a hearth. Our children lit their personal candle from the communal fire, acknowledging the relationship that we all have with our fellow humans. We need one another. No man and no family is an island. I wish you a joyous holiday season.
This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.