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The Peace of Winter, December 5, 2021

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!

The Peace of Winter

Welcome back to our Sunday Celebration, anticipating the coming Birth & rebirth of The Christ, the Child, and the essence of that Child within each and everyone.

This morning, we light the second candle of Advent, this one representing Peace.

“Peace isn’t something you have to search for or create. It is always present. Available the very instant we stop fighting and accept what is.” Rev. Michael Gott

Rev. Teresa Burton says, in the booklet, “A Christmas to Remember”: “Peace is presence. Peace is attention. Peace is not getting rattled over things that don’t really matter.”

And in Job 22:21; “Agree with God and be at peace; in this way goodwill will come to you.”

Those statements follow a story Rev. Burton talks about trying to do everything and be everything during the time leading up to Christmas. Isn’t that what we so often do? Buy the presents, wrap the presents, bake the cookies, make the special dinners.

In my family, with a strong Italian heritage on my mother’s side, we would often spend so much time baking and cooking, little time was left for the fun things…getting together with family on both parents’ sides. Traditionally, Christmas eve was spent with my Grandparents on my mother’s side.  We would travel to their house in the next town and as soon as you opened the door, that wonderful aroma would fill us with anticipation.  The long table was filled with all things Italian and the small home with many, many relatives.

After my grandparents passed, my mother did a smaller version of that Italian celebration. So many things to make and bake and cook, not to mention the shopping. Special sausage from the cousin’s store. Special mincemeat from another.

And of course, the gift shopping…and wrapping.

Christmas day was spent with family on my father’s side. Not as much special preparation, but still time consuming with the cooking and visiting.

And of course, it all had to be perfect. I don’t know about my grandmother, but my mother placed a lot of pressure on herself for everything to be as ‘right’ as possible. I guess she compared herself to her mother as many of us do to our own…is the pie crust good, my sauce was never as good as hers, she liked her sand tarts thin while like a little more cookie!

One thing she did do, as the years went by, she adjusted what needed to be on the Christmas Eve table, so she could handle it and she finally allowed us to help. My grandmother would never have settled for that!

Still, Where’s the time to truly prepare for the coming of the Christ Child? How do we fit in the preparation of our hearts and minds for this important reminder that we are of God, that all-encompassing Spirit of power, and truth, and knowing?

Now think about winter.

Not about the cold winds, and wet, blowing rain. No. Think of the quiet, peaceful presence of perfect white snow, lying everywhere you look. Step outside and just listen. No cars, no snowblowers yet. Just the peaceful presence of a noiseless moment in time. If you’re lucky, it will be more than a few moments.

Just stillness, and peace.

Take a deep breath. It’s almost like the air is cleaner during this part of winter.

WINTER is a going Inward time, a time for sensing our Truth.

From “Folklore, Customs, Legends and Mythology.The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year which is coming to a close… like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds.

Our modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, comfort food and consumerism.

And yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and the weather so bitter that people are left feeling that winter is hard, because for those of us without burning fires and big festive families, it can be lonely and isolating. Whereas in actual fact winter is kind, she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards this annual time of peace and reflection, embracing the darkness and forgiving, accepting and loving embracing goodbye the past year.

“Winter takes away the distractions, the buzz, and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth”.

.. and then, just around the corner the new year will begin again, and like a seed planted deep in the earth, we will all rise with renewed energy once again to dance in the sunlight

Winter welcomes you to quiet your mind, be still, and listen. It is associated with the element water and its properties of conserving energy and tranquility. Sounds about right.

During the dark of winter, icy winds blow. Trees become dormant. Bears and other animals hibernate. Did you know chipmunks hibernate?

Sometimes we feel like hibernating! And many do, in a sense. We tend to stay home more, snuggle up with a blanket and a good book, maybe a cup of hot tea or chocolate…don’t forget the tiny marshmallows!

We dress in colorful sweaters, layering up with the thought of layering down when necessary. We even dress up our dogs in sweaters to keep them warm when it is really cold outside. pic

What other things are on your favorites list?

Winter is exciting because it takes you to your depths. You reflect on your progress and areas that need growth.

We have the Burning Bowl in a few weeks, a time of reflecting on what no longer serves us. An opportunity to leave behind us people, situations, experiences that we have resolved with our inner work and can now release and move forward.

And after that we look to our future with the White Stone Ceremony, listening for our word or phrase that will be our strength and guidance for the new year.

The letter we then write, going into some detail about what we are looking to accomplish in the new year is the next activity as we look to what might be in this new year. It might be associated to the word or phrase you received for your White Stone, or something altogether different. Maybe your goals for the new year.

Still, it’s something to look forward to, when our letters arrive in June, or if you are at home, something you will bring out and read on the date noted on your calendar.

Inspiration can and most often does, come from the dark days of winter. As a former gardener, one of the things I loved to do, and most avid gardeners did also, was ordering the gardening catalogs and planning our gardens. The BURPEE catalog was my favorite. It is always filled with wonderful photos of the new and favorite flowers and plants. They even include some designs to inspire our imagination. I might just order one again and dream a little….

In every process of change, there is a season of winter in which hidden progress is taking place as our prayers are answered in their right time and way. It is up to us to nourish the work we are working on with quiet time, introspective time, prayer, meditation & contemplation time.

As I suggested last week, we all may want to make time for prayer, meditation, contemplation during advent as we anticipate the Birth of the Christ Child and our own rebirth, acknowledging our true selves…of God, in God…all One.

Let’s make a point to prioritize our preparation for the coming renewal, for the coming of the Christ Child, our own rebirth.

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