Friday, December 16, 2011

Sleigh Bells and Ink Wells Blog Hop

                                                    Gathering Light
      There were only a few Christian families on our block when I was growing up. One evening before Christmas, the McCarthys invited all the Jewish kids in to see their tree. I was enchanted. Tinsel, icicles, colored lights, angels - and under the tree there was fluffy cotton snow, and  a glass skating rink with tiny gliding figures.

      We knew the appeal for a Chanukah bush would be ignored, but my brother and I tried anyway. To my parents chagrin, Mrs. Dunbar, Bagley School’s music teacher,  taught us the words to all the carols, and we delighted the McCarthys by singing along to Perry Como’s Greatest Christmas Songs.

     I loved to light the Chanukah menorah, adding one more candle each night, and singing the prayer with my mother.  Somehow I understood that we must bring light into the winter darkness. I remember asking a teacher if The Early People Who Lived in Caves and The People Who Lived in B.C., knew that the light would come back as it got darker and darker in winter. 

      Many years later I began studying the mythological traditions that answered my question. I learned of the Great Mother, the God of the Dying Year, and the Sacrifice that brought back Light in the spring. I learned the cycles of death, rebirth and resurrection and taught myth and symbol, among other things, to my college students.

       Since Bill was raised with trees, lights and carols, we have both a tree and a Chanukah menorah, or candelabra. Late at night I like to sit alone in the living room across from the lighted tree, and experience the awe and mysterious silence in which I am totally present. The Chanukah candlefire provides a different experience - a meditation that takes me back though centuries - through millennia.  I return to the great synagogue of Prague, to Sepharad, where Jews, Muslims & Christians created a great culture together.  I enter the study house of Damascus, and the temple of Jerusalem and all the while there is the murmur of prayer - the ancient unchanging prayer.

      We not only need and seek light at the darkest time of the year. Light symbolizes the work of a lifetime, in the form of insight, epiphany and clarity. For me, those are the rewards of the soul’s lonely journey, which often passes through darkness and shadow. Both nature and culture rely on the light. Here is a poem that combines both,  which I wrote in New Mexico last June.

Moonrise, Truchas Peak
     Gathering Light

At Truchas Peak
the blood red sun
below the barns 
the horses
the tired earth
just as the moon
balloons upward                            

At the Santuario de Chimayo
the girl in the gift shop 
tells me she’s out of
St. Anthony  
she has other candles
       (What can it mean
       to be out of St. Anthony?)

El Santuario de Chimayo
In a hallowed corner
of the deep adobe walls
rows of glass votives
flickers of colored fire
from the painted saints
Touch a tapered stick
to the wick
and kindle
The Holy Family

Candlefire in El Santuario de Chimayo
       Light comes in so many forms. The love and connection to an amazing family and wonderful friends, the arts that inspire me,  and the connection to the Self that comes from writing. The result of that writing is my poetry book, After the Jug Was Broken, published this year by Fisher King Press - (if you are looking for a light- gathering poetry book to give as a gift). Light also comes from writing this blog - which allows me to share whatever I value. I invite your comments and your subscription.

 I wish you a holiday season filled with light.

To continue on our blog hop
go to  Smoky Talks: Smoky Zeidel's blog

The Other "Bloghoppers"
  1. Patricia Damery
  2. Debra Brenegan
  3. Malcolm R. Campbell
  4. T.K. Thorne
  5. Anne K. Albert
  6. Elizabeth Clark-Stern
  7. Collin Kelley
  8. Sharon Heath
  9. Melinda Clayton
  10. Ramey Channell