It doesn't look like it usually does, no matter how we might try. The carols are being sung, the lights glow, electronically. Often with no one to see them. And yet there is much to be found within the bouncing rebound of tradition when little else makes sense. Whether we are Christian or not, we all have our own examples of celebrating a spark of light in the dark. After the Solstice, we stick to a path of a possible through.
Are you not moved by our collective efforts to rally, now? I am. Something of a mustering mustard of Hope. Bitter, yes, but real...tangible if bitingly so.
I wander the streets of Avignon and when they are empty it strikes me with both relief and regret. When they are full, it worries me. To the maskless surrounding I want to ask, "How long do you think this will go on if you continue so?" But I don't. Confrontation is complicated.
I know this from not only how our societies have pitted themselves against the "other" but also how - over these many months - I have talked to myself.
Peace is to be cherished, whenever possible. In its own way, it should be stacked like logs on a fire inversible. One which prints us like a photograph from the inside out, where all that is negative or missing comes to light.
Yes, I am alone this year for the holidays...not even a mouse to scratch my door.
But it is what I am realising, more and more. The importance of my own inner quiet, within, to find stillness, a perspective which offers solace for all that I have felt this year. To forgive myself over and over and over for all the moments when fear was the victor or to champion when it was not. To try to give myself love, regardless.
Also to shoulder shrug the same love to you, the unknowable you, always. How strong must one be to do so? And yet how willing most of us are, despite our differences. We are endlessly more than we realise.
I haven't been able to buy the presents that I would wish to offer. Nor drag home a tree.
Simplicity is my greatest gift. A simple heartbeat. I breathe it in moments of awareness with a whispery exhale of warm sent out against cold. Life floating free.
Despite my solitude, what immense gratitude I feel. It is its own, different fire. So in my golden bubble, I listen to old favorite songs and light all the candles in daytime. As this is France, I let myself indulge in wintery delights but also have bought baby hyacinths that promise me that growth is possible. Spring comes nonetheless.
Within this true and utter quiet - a pause in my life while so many are still biting through deep loss - I try to imagine a future based upon what I still have. It is the very precarious material of Love that is left to build upon this year and into the next. We are all of us in this suspended somewhat so, even while our hearts, our very real hearts, amazingly, if occasionally, dare to dream. On we go.
How I mourn for the 1.72 million gone.
As we search for what is possible in this very particular Christmas...the best perhaps is that we may come home. No judgement, no fear, just home. Wherever that may be. For me, this year that is within my heart.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. If you can, hold you and yours ever so tight.
You can find a spoken edition of this post: here.