Winter Solstice Reflections with Billy S:
The winter solstice was this past Saturday and this begins the winter season. It is a pivot point from which the light will grow stronger and brighter. The longest night and shortest day of the year are followed by a renewal of the sun as days get longer. On this day the sun takes its lowest arc across the sky. On this day the sun sets farthest south on the horizon. Creating a meaningful winter solstice celebration can help us cultivate a deeper connection with nature, family, friends and community.
The winter solstice can be a beautiful reminder that our lives are part of a larger order that’s always changing and renewing. A way to bring warmth, light and cheerfulness into the dark time of the year.
For many millennia humans have marked this sacred time in the yearly cycle of life. The winter solstice can serve as a touchstone to help us cultivate an attitude of receptiveness and appreciation that will carry us through the holiday season.
Reflect on the stillness of the day by cultivating stillness in yourself. Spend more time listening, watching and honoring the slower, quieter rhythm of the season.
Darkness and night are times of rest, dreaming, healing and growth. Seeds must be put into the dark earth in order to send out roots and push up new shoots. Native plants bloom now so that their seeds will be formed and fall to the ground early enough in spring to take advantage of the rains. Plant a seed for a more intuitive, simpler and natural holiday season.
If you want to change something in your life or something about yourself the winter solstice is a good time to work on it.
This longest night can be a time of journeying deep into our inner dreamtime to bring forth a dream that can help us in the new year. A new year with fresh possibilities reborn in us all.
The Winter Solstice is:
A chance to clean house, both inner and outer.
A time for reflection, rest and renewal.
A time for feeding the spirit and nurturing the soul.
Stay in tune with nature!
My Christmas Eve:
There are some stories that truly speak to the heart and retired Ohio State Trooper Bob Welsh’s touching poem, “My Christmas Eve”, is certainly one of them…
Christmas Trees From Around The World:
The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington , D.C. is decorated with 3,000
ornaments that are the handiwork of U.S. schoolchildren. Encircling
evergreens in the ‘Pathway of Peace’ represent the 50 U.S. states.
The world’s largest Christmas tree display rises up the slopes
of Monte Ingino outside of Gubbio, in Italy ‘s Umbria region.
Composed of about 500 lights connected by 40,000 feet of wire,
the ‘tree’ is a modern marvel for an ancient city.
A Christmas tree befitting Tokyo ‘s nighttime neon display is
projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka.
Illuminating the Gothic facades of Prague ‘s Old Town Square,
and casting its glow over the manger display of the famous
Christmas market, is a grand tree cut in the Sumava mountains
in the southern Czech Republic.
Venice ‘s Murano Island renowned throughout the world
for its quality glasswork is home to the tallest glass tree
in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone
Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern
reflection of the holiday season.
Moscow celebrates Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox
calendar on Jan. 7. For weeks beforehand, the city is alive with
festivities in anticipation of Father Frost’s arrival on his magical
troika with the Snow Maiden.
He and his helper deliver gifts under the New Year tree, or yolka, which is traditionally a fir.
The largest Christmas tree in Europe (more than 230 feet tall)
can be found in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon , Portugal .
Thousands of lights adorn the tree, adding to the special
enchantment of the city during the holiday season.
‘Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree’: Even in its humblest attire,
aglow beside a tiny chapel in Germany ‘s Karwendel mountains,
a Christmas tree is a wondrous sight.
Ooh la la Galeries Lafayette! In Paris , even the Christmas trees are chic.
With its monumental, baroque dome, plus 10 stories of lights and
high fashion, it’s no surprise this show-stopping department store draws
more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
In addition to the Vatican ‘s heavenly evergreen, St. Peter’s Square
in Rome hosts a larger-than-life nativity scene in front of the obelisk.
The Christmas tree that greets revelers at the Puerta del Sol
is dressed for a party. Madrid ‘s two-week celebration makes
millionaires along with merrymakers. On Dec. 22, a lucky citizen
will win El Gordo (the fat one), the world’s biggest lottery.
A token of gratitude for Britain ‘s aid during World War II,
the Christmas tree in London ‘s Trafalgar Square has been
the annual gift of the people of Norway since 1947.
Drink a glass of gluhwein from the holiday market at the Romer
Frankfurt’s city hall since 1405 and enjoy a taste of Christmas past.
Against a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of
Christmas trees lights up the night (location unknown).
There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me…
What in the world do leaping lords, French hens,
swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?
This week, I found out.
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.
It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit–Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol…so pass it on if you wish.’
Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas Everyone – and, remember, the Twelve Days of Christmas are the 12 days following December 25th. The Christmas Season runs until Epiphany, January 6.
CHRISTMAS AT ARLINGTON CEMETERY
Arlington National Cemetery
Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell…
These wreaths — some 5,000 — are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine . The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He’s done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Thanks this week go to Billy S, Larry H and everyone sharing the holiday spirit!
What Could We Do Today To Pay It Forward?
“Love your enemies and you won’t have any…”