Reason for the Season
This time of year it’s common to hear people saying, “Remember the reason for the season.” And the implication is to remember that this is this time of year that we remember the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to his parents Mary and Joseph. In orthodox theological circles, this is called the inbreaking of God, meaning that the barrier between humanity and the divine was overcome or broken on this day. I always loved that word, inbreaking, because it seems like someone worked hard to avoid saying breaking in. And rightfully so. It would be strange (though entertaining) to celebrate a divine crime, or a break-in, year after year.
But more and more, when remembering the reason for this season is suggested to me, I find my mind focusing on today’s phenomenon, the winter solstice—this day that is shared by every single life on the entire planet. The balance of hours of day and hours of night will turn a corner in the morning and start to march back to the rhythm of the tilt of the Earth once more toward the balance we know at the equinox, and on and on and on.
The members of our human family who identify as Wiccan, Druid, and Pagan, along with a stunningly beautiful constellation of faiths and beliefs that are too numerous to list, celebrate this day and night in ways that many of our own ancestors did for centuries before most of the world’s most prominent religions ever existed. And seemingly inescapable remains the fact that Christmas, the season when new hope and new light entered the world for so many Christians, falls during the time of the year when daylight begins once more to grow in our passing days.
And this is where we each face an important question: how free are my beliefs? This is the perfect time of year, indeed, the perfect day, to consider whether the meaning I find in what I believe to be true depends on someone else’s beliefs being untrue. Do I deploy “reason” as a weapon to damage or criticize another’s belief as often as others try to convince me of what they believe is the “reason for the season?” And if I do, or even if I get any form of delight or satisfaction in imagining someone else to be mistaken, how free are my own beliefs? In a way, thinking this way sells my own faith short, and that’s the real divine crime.
So today I join in the song of the circling planet, whose gentle tilting rhythm is the reason for every season, whose elegant harmony with the sun brings a new light into the world every day, and whose melody is all of creation we are blessed to behold in every passing moment. Joy to this world and its heavenly dance today, and may the longest, silent night hold us each in its tender embrace.
Happy Solstice to all, and to all a long night!