What to do with melancholy at Christmastime?
For lots of people, this is thankfully not a problem. For lots of people, unfortunately it is. And for any number of reasons…
There are lots of good suggestions out there, tips and tactics you might find online, or from a friend, or in a book.[Some churches hold “Blue Christmas” services on or near the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year(in my Northern Hemisphere, that is)… the one at my church was last Sunday. It’s a service to mark that the Christmas season holds both deep joy and often pain and grief, too, even as the nights are at their longest…These services offer space to center your life and heart during the season. Now past for this year (sorry), you might be on the lookout for such a gathering in the future…]
Here’s my small offering: this poem I discovered today on Facebook. Lovely, hopeful, deep.
I will light candles this Christmas.
Candles of joy, despite all the sadness.
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch.
Candles of courage where fear is ever present.
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days.
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens.
Candles of love to inspire all of my living.
Candles that will burn all the year long.
– Howard Thurman
It was accompanied by this beautiful, beautiful picture (to the right), without credit that I could find. I cannot really discern the artist’s signature…Anolall? A. Noble? (If you know and can direct me to the artist, I would love for you do so in a comment below, thanks.)
I am grateful for such poetry, and art, along with stories that speak to our hearts…
I also share with you, in the featured image at the top of this post, the manger scene from my childhood…old, chipped, beloved. (Commonly called by others a “Nativity Set” or a “creche”…for me it was always “the manger scene.”) Somehow I was fortunate to be the kid (out of 4) in our family to be given possession of this many years ago…and every year I can hardly believe it’s still whole and I get to set it up, fingering each worn piece carefully as I place it. And I sit here in its glow as I type…
One of my fondest childhood memories is asking and being given permission to “play” with it, which really meant experimenting and finding different ways to arrange the figures, trying to get creative rather than sticking with the sort of automatic everyone-in-their-proper-places arrangement (as you see they are here…). I would gaze at the manger scene in its soft glow (the white or yellow Christmas tree light tucked up behind the angel – I mean, the angel’s radiance…!), and gently re-arrange the figures as long as Mommy would allow.
Nostalgia can bring deep pleasure and deep longing, both joy and pain. Such is the nature of us complex emotional beings.
May your complex array of emotions at this time of year be in good balance, whatever that balance may be for you in your life’s story.
I am happy to have discovered this poem, “I will light candles…” I hope you like it, too. I imagine I will be re-reading it all the year long. Maybe you will, too.
Blessed Christmas to you.
Thanks for reading – Pam