This time of year at this latitude in this temperate rain forest, the cold, dark, rainy weather can feel very oppressive for many of us. It may be even more difficult to deal with if the holidays on the calendar do not resonate with you or they intensify a sense of loneliness. Sigh. What to do? How to deal?
One of my favorite songs from the Unitarian Universalist hymn book, “Singing the Living Tradition,” is titled “Come, Sing a Song with Me” by Carolyn McDade. There are four verses and each is an invitation: “Come, sing a song with me; Come, dream a dream with me; Come, walk in rain with me; Come, share a rose with me, that I might know your mind.” Each of the verses concludes with the chorus: “And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find, and I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.”
Sometimes, invitations like those in the song are problematic for those of us who do not experience the winter holidays like others do. We may have to swallow the humility pill and admit that we don’t have the holiday spirit but we don’t want to be alone, we don’t want to be seen as a Scrooge. We do want to be understood and we do want to trust the invitations to sing, to dream, to walk and to share. A way to empower oneself may be to turn the invitations around and ask others to keep us company.
The winter holidays may be a burden because of the baggage they carry, the painful memories that they may conjure up. It’s hard to be out and about surrounded by the constant reminders. We don’t have the power to change the culture. What we do have is the power to change is our attitude about the season. Byrd Baylor wrote a lovely book, “I’m in Charge of Celebrations.” Take charge. Accept the invitations that feel right and extend invitations to those whose company you take comfort and joy in.
I am a fan of Emily Dickinson’s. Her birthday is Dec. 10 and I choose to celebrate this New England legend and her poetry with gingerbread, applesauce and whipped cream. It has been a delicious tradition for many years.
I love the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is celebrated on the Dec. 12. The story goes that Mary appeared to a peasant, Juan Diego, and asked that a church be built on the site where she stood. Juan Diego petitioned to have the church built and was instructed to ask Our Lady for a miraculous sign as proof of her identity. When Juan Diego informed Mary of the request, she directed him to a barren hill to gather roses. Skeptical, he climbed the hill and was rewarded with beautiful Castilian roses, not native to the area, that were blooming in December! Juan Diego returned to the bishop with his miracle. He opened his robe and the roses tumbled out and on the inside of his robe was an image of Mary. It is a great story that I choose to celebrate by sharing roses with friends. The story of the Our Lady of Guadalupe aligns perfectly with the chorus of the song: “And I’ll bring you hope, when hope is hard to find, and I’ll bring a song of love and a rose in the wintertime.”
Please consider these musings as an invitation to take charge of your celebrations, to sing, to dream, to walk and to share. Too often hope is hard to find but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. It’s up to us to seek the rose, enlist others in the journey, and to share the discovery.
• Pat Mclear is a member of the Juneau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Find more information at JUUF.org or on JUUF’s Facebook page.