Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved Christmas. Her parents emphasized the birth of Christ (as good Christian parents should) as well as weaving in Santa Claus, the Christmas tree and jingle bells. Family meals…church plays and nativity scenes…stove popped popcorn for decorating the tree…baked cookies for Santa’s arrival…Christmas day afternoon at her grandparents’ house (after church of course)…she adored it all. Years went by…she had a home of her own…and slowly the desire to decorate and partake in Christmas began to disappear. You see, so much commercialism had taken over and it all seemed such a chore. And without children around, well… she pretty much lost her Christmas spirit.
But there was New Years! Being a southern girl her mom would often cook black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day in hopes to bring luck and prosperity throughout the year ahead. Then as she grew up there were dinner parties…New Year’s eve overlooking Times Square or at the top of the north tower of the World Trade Center…ringing in the new year in far away places. All with the intent of out with the old and in with the new. A time for change, a time for self-fulfillment. Resolutions made, but rarely kept which soon turned into a time for disappointment. The spirit for even promised changes had disappeared as well. (Now don’t get her wrong. She absolutely loves a good party, regardless of the reason, so that never stopped her from enjoying the beginning of a new year!)
And again this year, no decorations and not much of a Christmas spirit, even though she does plan to spend New Years with friends. (Yeah!) But something changed and she’s blaming it all on Paul Winter. Huh? You see she attended Paul Winter’s winter solstice celebration of music, dance and the return of the sun at the Cathedral of St. John Divine in NYC. A sense of renewal, a rebirth of sorts…of hope and goodwill…a different kind of spirit – the light – had returned to her that night.
The concert began with Paul Winter playing his soprano saxophone stationed in a nook high in the back of the cathedral. The sound carrying across the vastness of the interior of the largest cathedral in the world was eerie, yet evocative. This was only a beginning of a three hour amazing, bone chilling performance. The recorded wolf and whale cries incorporated into Mr. Winter’s pieces sent chills throughout her body. Dramatic musical elements filled the vastness of the cathedral as Mr. Winter took her on a symbolic journey through the longest night of the year. A spiral tree filled with bells, gongs, and chimes appeared, intended to symbolize diversity. The Forces of Nature performed with vigor and emotion. A giant Earth made its way through the aisles, rising above while the musicians lead the audience in a round of wolf howls. Yes, she howled like a wolf! Tears poured down her face. At the end that lost spirit had been found and she left yearning to learn more about the history and symbolism of the winter solstice.
The arrival of winter solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. In the old days as winter approached, people watched the sun sink lower in the sky each day and would fear it would disappear completely and darkness would prevail. To entice the sun’s return, certain rituals were performed…bonfires were built and candles would burn in hopes to ward off the spirits of the dark. Today, winter solstice is a celebration of nature, light and giving. That’s why she’s chosen the word share as her intention for the new beginning….to spread the love, to share her divine light, to practice loving kindness, to lend a helping hand, to share her gifts. And you better believe she’ll be celebrating winter solstice for many years to come.