Winter Holiday Impermanence

Whether December delights you or depresses you, I can assure you of this: it will not last. Many of us will decorate our homes for Solstice, Hanukkah, and/or Christmas (if we haven’t already), remembering holidays past as we bring out candles, ornaments, maybe those cookie-cutters that only get used once a year. We will sing songs we associate with these holidays, perhaps host or attend parties. We may stress over the perfect gift for that child on the cusp of adulthood or a beloved elder who really, REALLY doesn’t want any more stuff. We may grieve for someone who won’t be at our festivities this year.

Our worship theme for December is Impermanence – acknowledging, and feeling the spiritual weight and freedom of the fact that this, too, shall pass. We will pack the special things away, January will come, and the universe will continue to unfold.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hang our stockings, or light the menorah, or curl up in bed with a stack of good books, waiting for the days to lengthen. There is value in ritual, remembrance, and tradition – and how can we grow in our capacity to hold this complexity and stay present, grounded, and compassionate as the world evolves and changes?

Our children will be exploring the topic of Awe in their Soul Matters Sunday School circles. What gives us goosebumps? What stops us in our tracks with its beauty, provokes deep wonder, maybe even frightens us with its immensity? As we pass through the shortest day and the longest night, celebrate the miracle of light that does not go out when we did not have enough oil to last, wonder at the birth of a baby who grew into a spiritual teacher whose lessons continue to reverberate two thousand years later, may we make space for wonder at all that has been, is now, and will be – and may we find peace and compassion for ourselves and each other in the present moment.