Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Poor Pagans" and Happy Holy Days

Whether we are Christians, Jews, or Atheists, we are all in awe of the power of light. This is the season for celebrating the miracle of light coming to us out of the darkness. In this holy season, Christians celebrate, not only the light of the sun, but the lightening of the burdens on our Spirits from our ancestral inheritance. We are told that we are no longer slaves to the mistakes of our fathers and mothers and all who came before them. We have been given a new beacon of The Spirit to guide us in creating our own chosen paths in The Eternal Light. Eternal, freely given, Divine Light is the reason for the season.

In taking all the focus of our holy days off of their original "pagan" (actual meaning is country dweller) meanings, we have lost sight of our Divine connection to our earth. The country dwellers I know and love, while most proudly proclaim their Christian religion, are very aware and in awe of the cycles of nature. It is a tragedy of immense proportions that so many modern humans have never anxiously awaited the sunlight after a long period of darkness. So many have never sought relief from the heat while sitting on the cool grass in the shade of a tree. So many have never dipped cool, sweet water pouring directly out of the earth from a mountain spring.

We have lost our connection to the earth. If we were to nurse a calf from gestation to adulthood, looking into his or her trusting eyes, would we not comfort him as we poured out the bull's life blood to give our families food? Would we not honor every drop of milk provided by the swollen udders of the crying cow? Would we not be in awe of the cycle that turns light, dirt, water and seed into grass, and finally into meat and milk? We've lost this with industrial agriculture. At least Kosher killing is purported to be humane.

I miss my my "pagan" friends when we're away from them. They have brought me back to the true meaning of life and Divinity. They have introduced me to the rich smell of a barn filled with garden-enriching manure, and the joy of a hand-hewn wood fire embracing me with warmth and light, as we break the depression of darkness of winter in each other's homes. They have allowed me to participate in the gathering of eggs from under their house-pet hens, and the fun of fertilizing a garden with what we scraped out of the hen's house.

We've watched them fell trees, mill their own lumber, and build houses with their own hands. We've walked the two hundred steps to the spring to bring back to the house a day's drinking water. Our "pagan" friends have shared secrets of waiting and preservation of today's good for tough times that are bound to come. They have regenerated my belief that life's greatest blessing is shared work in an environment that honors the natural cycles of nature, including each other. They have shared the immense faith it takes to keep working and patiently waiting.

I miss the sweet, cold water that comes out of our mountain ground and the eyes of the alpacas grazing at the bend in the road. I miss the dappled, weak winter light filtering through the immense hardwood trees. I miss the daily miracle of wood fires burning in our homes.Mostly, I miss the love and laughter than lightens all of our loads as we take life as it comes, good and bad, and make the most of it.

"Pagan" life isn't for sissies, and it is certainly not for those without The Holy Spirit to help them turn pain and pressure into production and light into life. Divinity is on this sweet, sad, sunny, stormy earth, in every morsel of creation. We simply need to learn to look for The Spirit and honor The Holy in all Their manifestations.

What is worship other than honor and awe in the Great Goodness that many call "God?" Perhaps the people we were taught to call "the poor pagans" weren't really worshiping many gods in all of nature; perhaps they were simply worshiping the Divine in each of the various manifestations in nature. Perhaps they aren't so "poor" as long as they can live off the land and The Light. What is wealth other than the ability to take a productive part in the miracles of life? City Christians have a lot to learn from the "poor pagans."

Jesus seems to have lived and died in honor of this life-style; this is why I consider him the Christ that I continue to attempt to emulate, usually with spotty success. I do celebrate his birth and life because I believe my soul would be dead without the love of others who walk in his example. Mostly, I celebrate the light of love than his Holy Spirit and those who follow his lead leave on earth to light the loads of others.

Happy Holy Days, whatever you may call your particular days of awe in the miracles of life-giving light that surround us on this earth.

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