Thursday, December 21, 2006

Longest Night

Tonight is Solstice of Winter. The shortest day of the year. The longest night of the year.

For some, the holidays are so hard. Even with all the blessings and abundant good things in my life, there is still sadness in the sickness in the people close to me. There is poverty, there is ill will. There is war.

But for many more people, the holidays are a blur of pain. This night and the twelve nights that follow are a great burden to those who've lost people they love, lost their hope, lost their health.

Tonight I came home with a bit of pine to green up the place. I felt the old Christmas joy creeping back into my bones as I moved about the house planting the sprigs of pine here and there, the smell bringing a bit of welcome natural beauty to everything.

I am finding that I can still enjoy this time of year, even without the compulsory religious machinations. This season is still a time to turn inward and reflect on purpose, intent, ask for forgiveness, and seek and offer peace.

I hope all who need peace find it, and wish all who dread this longest night find understsanding and a brighter day on the other side of these long hours.

This favorite carol of mine, The Cherry Tree Carol, I just learned was Child Ballad #54. It is very interesting for an old song, full of human emotions like frustration, anger, and heartbreak. The mystery revealed is forgiveness and understanding.

The Cherry Tree Carol

When Joseph was an old man,
An old man was he,
He married Virgin Mary,
The Queen of Galilee,
He married Virgin Mary,
The Queen of Galilee.

As Joseph and Mary
Walked through an orchard green,
There were apples and cherries
Plenty there to be seen,
There were apples and cherries
Plenty there to be seen.

Then Mary spoke to Joseph,
So meek and so mild,
"Joseph, gather me some cherries,
For I am with Child,
Joseph, gather me some cherries,
For I am with Child."

Then Joseph flew in anger,
In anger flew he,
"Let the father of the baby
Gather cherries for thee,
Let the father of the baby
Gather cherries for thee."

Then Jesus spoke a few words,
A few words spoke He,
"Let my mother have some cherries,
Bow low down, cherry tree,
Let my mother have some cherries,
Bow low down, cherry tree."

The cherry tree bowed low down,
Bowed low down to the ground,
And Mary gathered cherries,
While Joseph stood around,
And Mary gathered cherries,
While Joseph stood around.

Then Joseph took Mary
All on his right knee:
"Oh, what have I done, Lord?
Have mercy on me.
Oh, what have I done, Lord?
Have mercy on me."

Then Joseph took Mary
All on his left knee:
"Oh, tell me, little Baby,
When Thy Birthday will be,
Oh, tell me, little Baby,
When Thy Birthday will be."

"On the fifth day of January
My Birthday will be,
When the stars and the elements
Shall tremble with fear,
When the stars and the elements
Shall tremble with fear."

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