Through my years as a Roman Catholic, especially as a teen, I became enamored with the liturgical calendar, the sort of Wheel of the Year for Catholicism (and many other Christian traditions, as well). Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and everything that followed, including saints’ and Marian days and other holidays.
The liturgical year began this past Sunday with the first Sunday of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent is a time of reflection and commitment to the new year. The original liturgical color of Advent was violet, the color of renewal and penitence for errors and sins of the previous year. Now that Advent has become primarily a season of joyful hope, in many places the liturgical color is blue, or even a combination of blue and violet.
You may have seen Advent wreaths. The circle of evergreen for the hope of eternal life, and the three violet candles and one pink. The pink one is for the third Sunday, Gaudete (hope) Sunday. It represents the hope of here-but-not-yet, one of the central tenets of Christianity.
What do I mean about here-but-not-yet? It is the idea that the Reign of Love has been brought to Earth, and yet is not fully realized.
And this is an idea, friends, that I can get behind.
Tradition after tradition has teachers/teachings who tell us that we already contain the Divine within us. They remind us that we need only peel back layers of forgetfulness to open to the Godlife we are.
Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, the commemoration of Gautama Siddhartha’s Enlightenment, available to all, under the tree in Bogadhaya. While the Buddha’s Enlightenment is told with miracles and amazing feats of focus and meditative power, the Middle Way is nonetheless made available to all.
Many traditions all over the world celebrate the winter solstice in one way or another. In fact, some argue that Christmas derives from earlier solstice celebrations associated with another born-and-dying god. Winter solstice is one of my favorite holidays, and I will be preparing for it with a retreat on Saturday, December the 17th, Going into the Dark. I have only three spots left (as of November 29) and I’d love to see you there. Go ahead and click on the link for further invitation. All four calls of the day will be recorded, so even if you can’t make them all, you may still benefit from the retreat by doing it by yourself when you’re able. I also had a retreatant from last year who attended two calls and nevertheless found the event
deeply meaningful and transformative.
Going into the Dark is a kind of Advent celebration in itself. It is a time to prepare as we enter the last days of the growing dark, the close, embracing, holy dark. I will have the retreat, and then my wife and I will move toward our celebration on solstice itself, a day we go without electric lights, light the house with candles, and watch the sunlight outside, such as it is. We will read Tarot, spend time writing in the dim, and enjoying one another’s company. Sometimes we even make cookies! Though discovering the mess we’ve left for the next day is always exciting! Even in candlelight, it’s hard to see what dough you’re dropping!
And even in my own sense of the year, there is here-but-not-yet. There is the clear sense that we are Divine, children of Earth and Starry Heaven and that Earth and Stars are part of God Herself. And there is also the invitation to follow the Wheel into Light, from the inward contemplation of solstice toward the illumination of what has lain dormant and needs to stretch toward the light.
There is the love in our hearts. And there is the Beloved Community we build.
But for now, we wait.
We wait for these weeks as a reminder of the journey we are all on, moving ever into the future from this only moment we have, the present.