Minister’s Moment, December 2016
In the weeks ahead we will be plunging into darkness, the days getting shorter and shorter. The bleak dreariness of December seems particularly fitting to me this year. On top of the usual spectrum of blue Christmas feelings I know many of us experience (difficult anniversaries, emotional stress of the Holiday season, etc.), people are experiencing unprecedented political sadness and stress.
Psychologists, therapists, and clergy across the country are reporting election-induced stress, as well as post-election depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. Racial tension in America is at a fever pitch, the Standing Rock Sioux are fighting for their lives, their land, and clean water, and many of us are wondering what will happen in January under a new presidential administration. All of this has Americans wound up, tense, anxious, and waiting to see what happens.
These are indeed dark times. And this is the season of Advent, the time of year when Pagans are preparing and waiting for the return of the light (the sun) and when Christians are preparing and waiting for the birth of Jesus (the son).
In December it is easy to focus on this fact: the coming light and the holiday joy. But can we not rush through December this year? Can we not rush through our pain, grief, and sadness (if we have it)? What if we all slowed down and truly allowed ourselves to be in the quiet darkness and to be still in the depths of midwinter?
Yes, on December 21st the Winter Solstice will arrive, the earth will tilt, and the sun will return again. Yes, on December 25th Christians will celebrate the birth of Jesus all over the world. Yes, the light will return. Yes, love wins. But we are not there quite yet: we are still in the season of Advent.
Our Unitarian Universalist faith, born out of the Pagan and Judeo-Christian traditions, allows us to live in this tension. Our tradition embraces darkness and light. It exists in the present and calls us to beauty, hope, and justice. As Unitarian Universalist Mary Katherine Morn says, “We are not here to protect our hearts from breaking. We are here together to borrow courage for the task of coming alive. We are here so that together we might heed the admonitions of beauty. Answer the call to create, protect, and preserve.”