ON ANOTHER LEVEL
(As my retirement approaches, I have been marking “last times” and gathering special memories. Over the next few months, I plan to share some of these in various ways. My newsletter article this month revisits an old favorite, only slightly revised.)
I truly love the changes each season in New England brings and find beauty in each of them. Winter brings contrasts into sharp focus. Amidst the serenity of the muted shades of the gray, white, brown and dull, dark green landscape, there are flashes of light and bright color: from sunlight reflecting off the lake ice, from frozen red berries, flittering birds, and incredible sunsets. The crisp, cold, refreshing air that creates red noses and visible breath is relieved by the warmth of the house and some hot chocolate. The cacophony and bustle of the mad holiday rush is balanced by the quiet calmness of meditation in the moments before sleep.
The darkness of winter is a much-anticipated and necessary retreat from the exuberance and vivacity of other seasons and times. I love to sit in the dark of my home, wrapped in a quilt with just the flickering flames of the fireplace to warm me. As I gaze at the intense pinpoints of the Christmas tree lights, I remember years past and people gone from here who seem especially close at this time. I feel secure in the present and filled with hope for the future. The nurturing darkness brings me the best of this season’s gifts – solace, contentment, connection, sanctuary and peace.
One of my favorite passages is from the very end of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas:
“Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steadily falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.”
These are my words of prayer for this time: May we each embrace and be embraced by the “close and holy darkness.” May the gifts of the season nurture and fulfill us all. May we truly come to know peace and goodwill on Earth.
Vicki Merriam, Director of Religious Education