Sunday, November 20, 2011
The beginning of the holidaze
On Sunday night I heard the bleak and hopeless cry of a man--it was the sound you make when you've reached the breaking point--the scream at the top of your lungs that releases pent up fury. I lay in bed waiting for the next phase of this man's horror--the gunshot. But none came. I thought about what it would be like to be homeless, out in the street on a freezing cold night with nowhere to go.
On Monday night all was quiet until the street sweepers came by. It seemed that our street was especially dirty since the whir of their engines faded away and then approached again, coming down the alley by the side of our house. After that the train whistles began their nightly serenade, the clackety-clack of the wheels in the background.
As the dark time approaches I wonder what the night will bring. Will there be homeless people huddling into doorways? Will fights break out because of alcohol abuse and utter frustration? I feel powerless to help and it bothers me. I can bring food to the homeless Vietnam vet who begs at the side of the road, I can bring blankets to those who have none, but I can't stop the tide of unemployment, the people who have lost their homes.
Why am I writing this now? I guess because of the season we're hurtling toward--'the buying season'. The ads have begun, the tinsel trees are up in the Mall. Buy this, buy that, twenty percent off sale! What does this feel like to those who don't have a roof over their heads or money for food?
I remember my five-year-old daughter ripping through the boxes on Christmas morning and at the end of it feeling let down. Where is the perfect gift--the one I was waiting for? But there is no perfect gift. There might be one present that gives satisfaction for a time but even it will soon be discarded.
Samhain marks the beginning of the dark time--when the days begin to shorten and we slow down, go inward and gather our energies. In this culture of hustle and bustle the 'buying season' disrupts the natural rhythms, putting pressure on us at a time when we need to go dormant rather than blossom. At the winter solstice the sun is at its lowest ebb but after that the days begin to lengthen and it is the 'return of the light' that we celebrate. The meaning for me comes with lighting candles to dispel the dark, a roaring fire, a resinous fir tree brought inside and decorated, family and friends coming together for food and wine and giving a libation to the goddess of winter. If I was church-goer I would want to sing carols with others, our mingled voices filling some cavernous space--and despite my pagan leanings there have been years I've attended midnight mass.
What is it about the season that you like or don't like? How do you get through the hype and craziness?