Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter is Dark, Yet Each Tiny Spark

New Birth Moon:

New Birth Moon 2008: Waiting

New Birth Moon 2009: Advent, Awaiting the Birth

This post is also about Advent, which I wrote about in posts Christmas (Winter Solstice 2009), Moving from the Season of the Dead (Full Death Moon 2009), and Solstice Creche (Winter Solstice 2008).

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You know the song, it's stuck in your head too...

It really IS beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. The soft rock radio station has completed its annual metamorphasis into a Christmas music station. Lights are up on homes and buisnesses. When I first started seeing all the trees tied to the tops of SUVs around town I had visions of suburban dads out with shotguns hunting down their perfect tree and dragging it home. Now I see those perfectly chosen trees in front windows all decorated. And the parties! My social calendar is close to booked for every weekend until the end of the month with holiday parties of every stripe: christmas sweater parties, christmas light viewing parties, holiday cocktail and housewarming parties, holiday movie viewing parties, open houses and wassail and gingerbread making parties. Oh my! No wonder people get exhausted during the holidays.

As I've written about in the last two years I will be focusing most of my festive energy on the Advent season leading up to Christmas. My sister and I just moved into a new apartment and I am finally able to put my creche in the living area of the house. We also dug out a fun advent calendar she bought at Starbucks a number of years ago. It is made of cardboard and has reuseable drawers that she fills with little goodies for me each year. We are having a housewarming party this weekend and will decorate the house with lights and maybe a small tree as well. I can't wait.

The pastor at my Quaker church holds an open house every December and he and his wife decorate their little home to the rafters with Christmas decorations. She also makes dozens of different kinds of cookies. The first Sunday of Advent is my "liturgical year anniversary" of attending West Hills Friends and I finally feel like I am making friends there. It was so nice to have another opportunity to hang out with these people who are becoming a really important part of my life. I was talking with one man about how his family is celebrating Christmas this year and I realized that I don't have real plans for Christmas day... the fun is all in the season leading up to the "big event" for me.

Winter is dark,
Yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way
To Christmas Day.

Shine little light
And show us the way
To the bright, bright light
Of Christmas day.

From the Waldorf Clearing House Newsletter Archive, Fall 1981

Like last year I am decorating my creche according to the four realms of the natural world. The first week of Advent is dedicated to the mineral realm. Lynn Jericho, in her essay I am a Human Being, describes how the four "bodies" Rudolph Steiner identified are related to the four realms of the natural world. The mineral realm is associated with our physical bodies, the actual bone, muscle and skin that makes up our physical shell. She says the rocks have their own individual physical make up - there is a physical difference between granite and limestone, pyrite and quartz - but they have undifferentiated life, soul and spirit bodies. The mineral realm is related to our physical bodies and, in my mind, our physical environment. As we moved into our new house on Wednesday of the first week of Advent I saw that connection very clearly. We could see the "bones and stones" of our home, the blank walls and empty expanses of floor.

The second week of Advent is dedicated to the plant realm and our life bodies. Our life bodies are the rhythm that brings animation to the otherwise inert physical body. Plants have both an individual physical body - roses are different from redwoods which are different from dog woods and ferns - and an individual life force. The rose bush in my front yard grows differently than the rose in your yard and each tree has a different feeling to it, but the soul and spirit bodies are still communal. The soul of a rose belongs the same to all roses no matter where they grow. During the second week of Advent we started to settle into the rhythm of our new home. Where does the furniture go and how do we navigate around it? Which drawer holds the silverware and how early in the evening do we need to turn the heat on in the bedroom so it will be warm by bed time? I decorated the creche with sprigs of holly, Douglas fir and cedar from the neighborhood and burned sage and sweetgrass throughout the apartment in an ancient ritual of purification and dedication.

During the third week of Advent I will celebrate the soul forces of our home, which are correlated to the animal kingdom. Animals, with their differentiated soul bodies, have individual perceptions and can make decisions. They have relationships. Most likely we will put up art on the walls and the house will start to really have a lived in feeling, especially after our housewarming party. Humans are the only beings that can have a fully developed spirit body, the body that experiences the divine eternal. Lynn Jericho says the spirit body never truly incarnates, it only illuminates. Perhaps we can be lucky enough to fill our house with enough love and laughter to occasionally get flashes of the spirit life of our new home. Living fully in the Christmas season seems as good of a way to get there as any.

I light four candles on the wreath, all made of holly green,
For you and me, and all who shall be,
Four candles now are seen
We await on earth the holy birth, and upon the boughs of green.
Our hopes arise with every flame, four candles now are seen!

Attributed to Mrs. Marsha of Shining Star School and the Waldorf Home Educators Yahoogroup.

How are you striving to live fully in the Christmas season? Are you decorating or baking for the holidays? What do you know about Steiner's thoughts on the fourfold human being? Does any of what I've written or you've read elsewhere ring true to you? What's your favorite Christmas carol?

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