"Darkness and Light Dancing Together"
- At the Desert Retreat House -
The other day I saw a Facebook post announcing that, in addition to their regular services, a local church would be offering A Blue Christmas Service this year. There will be will be joyful celebrations of candle-lighting and festive carols and there will be another “Blue” service for folks who may be feeling particularly sad, lonely or depressed at this time of year.
I guess that it’s not so surprising that some (maybe many) people might be feeling “blue” as the hours of daylight wane and the night grows long. The more I think about it, it’s probably a really good idea to offer some sort of Blue Service during this supposedly “festive” time of year because this is not only a season of heightened joy but it is also a season of pronounced sadness.
In this holiday season we watch tender movies about people who find new love as the snow falls and the lights on a tree twinkle. We also see pictures of families gathered, sharing gifts, eating a great feast and raising a glass of “good cheer.” We turn on a radio or go into a church or a mall and hear the music of the season, songs of comfort and joy, songs of a child sweetly sleeping in a “silent night” where all is calm and all is bright, and we may imagine that this is what Christmas is supposed to be.
This is supposed to be a time of love, peace, joy, tenderness and togetherness, but plenty of people don’t feel this way and so it leaves them wondering why they aren’t experiencing the holidays as they are supposed to be.
The truth is that lots of folks do not have big families with whom they will gather and even if they do, their time together won’t necessarily be all that joyful or convivial. This holiday season is also a time when the sting of a lost relationship or memories of a loved ones who may have died or live far away can be exceptionally painful. On top of it all, this past year has been pretty tough for many people in America as we sink deeper and deeper into the muck of political battles and culture wars.
As I see it, no matter what people may imagine this holiday season is supposed to be, it is never a season of perfect bliss and ever-calm peace; but then again, this isn’t what life has to offer for any of us because life is a beautiful struggle. As human beings we know tenderness and compassion, we share joy and we all have our moments of peace and serenity. As human beings we also feel "blue" from time to time, disappointed or frustrated, sad and gloomy, lost, lonely and confused.
I am very fond of the homespun wisdom of Anne Lamott who once made this wonderful observation about our common humanity:
Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy and scared,
even people who seem to have it more or less together -
they are much more like you than you would believe.
So try not to compare your insides to their outsides.
As I see it, healing only happens we get to the point where we can admit our own “woundedness” and share our common weakness. Our wounds and our suffering are opportunities for us to be vulnerable, to let down the protective walls of our ego and reach out to one another - and when that happens love is finally possible.
Regardless of what you may believe or what path you walk, we might all be feeling a bit “blue” this time of year – that’s because darkness and light always dance together as we make our way through the wilderness we call life.