Friday, December 31, 2010

New Beginnings

Since Christmas Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about endings and letting go. And the flip side, of course, new beginnings. Focusing on it this way, really understanding that this is the time of year to reflect, to let go, to open to and await the new, has injected so much new meaning into the season for me. It’s been an epiphany, really, which is a bit ironic, given that epiphany is both a regular word meaning revelation, and the proper name given to the official “Twelve Days of Christmas” on the Christian calendar.

For Christians, Jesus is the Reason for the Season. But eons before the birth of Christ, people everywhere observed the season of darkness and celebrated the return of the light on the solstice, and with it, the return of life, hope, possibility. The rebirth of the Sun. The birth of the Son. Hmm… Winter solstice, the Yuletide, The Twelve Days of Christmas, New Year on the Gregorian Calendar are all about endings and letting go, renewal and rebirth.

We talked a lot about the holiday this year when my family and I were together. As non-Christians, some of whom struggle with the materialism we are surrounded with, molded by, and participate in, we questioned, debated, wondered. What exactly are we celebrating and why? And what about all that stuff we wrap so brightly and place under the tree? Are there other ways we could show our love and appreciation for each other? Can we really stop buying things made in China in favor of the handmade, recycled, reused? Are we willing to pay more to support the small business and independent artist? Can we really live without Amazon dot com (sadly, truly, part of the discussion), and for me, even more challenging, zappos dot com? Are we ready to sacrifice gifts altogether? Can we give up the toxic chemically treated and painted wrapping papers? Isn’t being together all that we really need? What about giving more to those in true need? And on and on.

What I really hear, between the lines and specifics, is the wondering, no, beyond wondering, the great desire to live in more consciousness and meaning around this holiday that is on one hand religious, one hand secular, and on another, much broader, deeper, older than we know. I hear us examining our basic ideals and values, throwing it all in the mix; what gives us joy, what heartache; about giving and receiving and celebrating; about letting go and inviting the new in on so many different levels.

Early this morning I dropped my daughter and her boyfriend at the Seattle Airport. As I drove out of the airport, there ahead of me was Mt. Ranier, more splendid than I’ve ever seen and looking almost close enough to reach out and touch; ancient, seeming to rise out of nowhere and nothing as if by magic or brushstroke or some trick of the eye; clear, majestic, snow-covered, superimposed against a fresh, young sky layered with soft, bright, golden, sun drenched clouds. It was so beautiful, both sky and mountain, it warmed me inside; though outside was a frosty eighteen degrees, though the ice on the road made me anxious, though all family had now gone their separate ways except me, who is staying on to take care of their new dog for the week they are gone celebrating with Greg’s family.

Warmed and amazed.

Something really did shift for me this holiday. It’s like a primordial remembering happened on a cellular level and knowing glowed inside me about the true—no matter what tradition you embrace—meaning of this time of year. Something in me opened at the knowledge that for most of human history, for as long as people cognitively observed the heavenly happenings (which I think is much earlier than we can imagine), this has been the turning point, the time, the opportunity for letting go in preparation for new birth. Even my body relaxes as I write this, and I breathe deeper, as I am infused with a feeling of deep and abiding rightness and peace.

New beginnings. I look forward to this week alone in a different part of the country, walking Lola, enjoying the cold, the quiet, finding the new and different to take pictures of, starting to learn Photoshop Elements 9 (a great gift I received), organizing my picture files, writing, doing some art in my daughter’s art space. For some reason that is not yet understood, the new seems to be about creativity. Pretty much never an artist of any sort, I am inexplicably drawn to it, and on a level that feels compulsory. A life-long reader no longer able to read much of anything (except hopefully the Photoshop manual!), it feels almost, on a level that defies articulation, as though its becoming more about images, less about words. A huge shift and challenge for this airy-thinking-Mercurial type…

Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, I think I will do a ritual of some kind to mark the passage. In the meantime, in the spirit of new beginnings, I’ve updated my blog, and it has a whole new look. My daughter created the new banner from a photo I took a few years ago while in Vermont attending a workshop on The Amherst Writer’s and Artist’s method of writing group leadership. It’s one of few photos I kept from that trip. I’d been exploring tiny backroads in a wetlands area as research for my novel and came upon this simple, yet beautiful scene. A perfect image to accompany musing in the moment. I'm still doing some fine-tuning, but it's pretty much up and running. I hope you enjoy the new look!

And speaking of new beginnings: while together here for the holidays, we celebrated my younger daughter, Katie's, graduation from college the week before Christmas. It's been a long haul for her, having to work full time for the last two years to support herself while attending classes. It was hard and she hung in there and I am SO proud of her...

Wishing her and all of you the very best of new beginnings...

Sweet, gentle Lola. Rescued hours before being euthanized, adopted by my daughter and her boyfriend. My companion for the week.

1 comment:

  1. Much of what you write here resonates with me. How can we make the holiday more about love and togetherness rather than being about “stuff” and old grievances. What is truly important? For many this time of year is a time of reflection and for a lucky few a time for a new direction. I hope that in the New Year you find a more comfortable path for yourself and I’m glad you’ll be following my rambles around California.


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