(For those looking for Turning the Wheel, see the bottom of this post.)
Today is the second day of Christmas, the third day of Chanukah, and the first day of Kwanzaa. Oh, and the Feast of St. Stephen and Boxing Day. The sun is rising earlier and setting later.
The holidays just keep coming.
And yet, perhaps because my household does not celebrate Chanukah, and I only celebrate Kwanzaa inasmuch as I celebrate my friends who celebrate it, these feel like the in-between days for me. It’s five days since solstice. The secular New Year fast approaches. Even my sweetie’s birthday is tomorrow.
In my family of origin, there are Christmas dishes. They come out at Thanksgiving, and go back to their cabinets on Epiphany, the Feast of Three Kings in the Western Christian traditions. The dishes celebrate Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, and the Twelve Days of Christmas, the time leading to Epiphany.
There’s so much leading up to…so much waiting…so much invitation to hope.
Solstice is about (among other things) the hope of New Light, the necessity of coming together to share our warmth and love in the insistent hope that Earth will provide more as time goes on.
Chanukah is about hoping against hope that what has been given will be enough. That dedication is enough. That the recovery of ways to the Divine is enough.
Christmas is about hope too. An infant, squalling in the feeding bin for donkeys and oxen, was no kind of power or threat. They were a hope. A hope their mother sang out in the Magnificat, the Song of Mary, about God casting down the mighty from their thrones and sending the rich away empty. A hope that something, some revelation/revolution might come to pass.
And Kwanzaa, as I understand it—and I do not claim a deep knowledge—is about hope too. A hope for the values of the seven days to help bring people of African descent into community with one another. To support one another. To caucus, as it were, and grow stronger.
And maybe one day, for us all to live in Beloved Community. Maybe?
Hope and hope and hope against hope.
It is hard to hope. I think of Eomer’s comment to Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. “Do not trust to hope. It has abandoned these lands.” Sometimes of late, I feel that way. That hope has abandoned lands all over Earth. O, Aleppo, I sing a song of lament for you, for I do not know how there is hope there.
And here where I live, in the United States, somehow a terrible plutocrat has been made President-Elect. I am terrified of him and all those he elevates or wants to elevate to even more power than they already have.
And yet I have celebrated or honored all these holidays of hope. Of Here-but-Not-Yet, as my thoroughly Christian friends say. How can I give up hope?
“To get to the hope / you’ve got to go down deep. / So go down, go down, go down.” Indeed. Deeper and deeper, reaching into that place of powerful and sovereign wisdom. The place where we know we belong to ourselves, as well as to those we love and who love us. But to ourselves first.
And in that place, that deep, deep, deep place, maybe we can find some hope. Not the facile operations of optimism, but hope. The powerful knowing that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. What are you hoping for this season?
Finally, speaking of all these holidays, I invite you to consider my free series, Turning the Wheel. It is an informative, experiential, and fun way to learn more or connect with the eight solar holidays many contemporary Pagans celebrate. Holidays of hope, grief, delight, relinquishment…all kinds of feeling states and glorious celebrations.
As I mentioned above, it is free, yet comes with access to my closed Facebook group, The Way of the River Community Group, where the calls will be broadcast. We’ve already had some wonderful conversation over there, and I’d love to have you. Again, the link to learn more: Turning the Wheel. Very much hope to see you there!