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A Reflection – Blue Christmas and Winter Solstice

December 21, 2019

Tonight marks the Winter Solstice and the beginning of Winter. It is the longest night of the year and the ancient Celtic people considered it to be the beginning of their New Year. After tonight the days will begin to grow longer. I remember during my time in England how stark the contrast was between Winter and Summer. Darkness and Gloom slowly gave way to Light and Brightness.

Tonight, as we near the end of the Advent Season of Pilgrimage, we hosted our fourth-annual Blue Christmas Service. Blue Christmas is a quiet, reflective service for those who are grieving, lonely, sad, not feeling particularly festive or just in need of a time of quiet in the busy-ness of the season. As my colleagues from the Estes Park Interfaith Alliance and I led worship it was a sacred time in a sacred space. People were invited to light candles and lift up names or circumstances in prayer. Being able to light candles was a tangible way to offer up prayer. There were so many names that Denise and I alone lifted up. So many beloved friends and family who have slipped the bonds of this earthly existence. They and their families continue to be treasured in our hearts and our memories.

Tomorrow is the last Sunday in Advent and two days later it will be Christmas Eve. As this Advent Pilgrimage winds down, I am thankful for the opportunities to Be Still in the midst of it all.

Merton says the following in his poem, In Silence.

Be still

Listen to the stones of the wall.

Be silent, they try

To speak your

Name.

Listen

To the living walls.

Who are you?

Who

Are you? Whose

Silence are you?

….Oh be still, while

You are still alive,

And all things live around you

Speaking (I do not hear)

To your own being,

Speaking by the Unknown

That is in you and in themselves…

It is only by being still that we can truly hear the voice and feel the heartbeat of God. This has been my challenge and pilgrimage this Advent season.

Finally, Howard Thurman joins Thomas Merton in my heart, my reading, and my reflection. From his book, The Mood of Christmas, comes the following:

Our little lives, our big problems–these we place upon Thy altar!

…War and the threat of war has covered us with heavy shadows,

Making the days big with forebodings–

The nights crowded with frenzied dreams and restless churnings.

We do not know how to do what we know to do.

We do not know how to be what we know to be.

Our little loves, our big problems–we place upon Thy altar!

As we light the candles

As we simply pause and Be Still

May we feel God’s heartbeat within us and hear God’s voice calling to us.

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