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2002 - December

UUMAN TIMES
December, 2002

Dear Friends, 

Isaiah 9:2-3

The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light.  Those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.  You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy.  They rejoice before us as with joy at the harvest.

It’s December again.  The darkest time of the year.  And coldest.  The time when I know it would be so much more comforting to sit inside, where it’s warm, and sip hot drinks.  Listen to some carols.  Eat some gingerbread men.  Think of coming presents.  Be in the comforting company of familiar faces.  Re-live rituals of the past.  It’s kind of a Nickelodian fantasy of Christmas gone by that runs through my head. 

It dawns on me that this year the tidings of the season may not decorate my December days like the Rockwell / Kincaid picture that has somehow found it’s way into my idyllic vision of the season.  Again. 

If this realization wasn’t so familiar, I suppose it would be disappointing.  I guess, now that I’ve been grown up for some time I shouldn’t really continue to expect to make eggnog and spiced cake from the ingredients December usually leaves on my doorstep.  Not that I’m complaining. 

It’s been more than thirty years since I made extraordinary efforts to be good for the whole month so that the presents I received would appropriately reflect my angelic disposition during an excruciatingly long season.  Thirty years since I could make a list of all I wanted, drop it in the mail, and await my bounty.  Since candy and toys were the wondrous treat they once were. 

The season now seems more like an old story.  A memorable plot with new characters.

Today, I went outside, in the cold early evening, and stood on the railing by my office window.  The sun had set.  What light remained illuminated the orange silt fencing around the property, the upturned earth and a lone car by Discovery Hall.  Over the construction I could see where a light remained on.  Karen or Toniann must have been working late.

One of the old stories that my Holiday season has begun to resemble is the one with the three magi who left the comfort of their kingdoms to seek hope in a chaotic time.  Forsaking all they knew of what had been for what they believed could be.    I watched a car pull into the driveway.  And then another.  They parked close together and went into Discovery Hall. 

Another story that my holidays tend to look like is the one where people of a community fight hard to keep opposing forces from stealing what, to them, is sacred.  They gather together by diminishing fires hoping the only oil they have will be enough to last them into a new age.  Three more cars pull into the area and park next to the others.  Then four.  And five.  All go in.

Another story: one of peoples who gather together amidst encroaching darkness, hoping for new light.  I watch as a final car pulls in and I imagine that through the window, in the place now harboring many people, it is warm. 

From where I stood, even in the enveloping darkness, I could still see the fencing and dirt and chaos of our current construction and I could imagine the foreboding feeling which befell the Magi before they undertook the long journey to reach what they knew awaited them.  I could look out and believe that amidst the rubble, a building might someday actually rise up from where only those cars were parked; and I knew what the Macabees hoped.  I could envision it filled with people experiencing hope who had only a short time before known what it was to be cold and frightened and alone.  And I understood the celebration of our solstice. 

I believe that all we are doing here at UUMAN is a renewal.  It isn’t about getting presents for pretending to be good.  It isn’t about good lists and bad ones.  Appropriate for the season, we are looking out on a long journey.  But the end of all our efforts will bring a hope more magnificent than anything we may recall from holidays of old.  It is hope for our times.  That the people of our age will be able to look deep into the darkness of enmity and division and see a light of community.  And the people inside will be warm.  In a place where the doors remain open.  And there is a place for everyone in need of something real to believe in, who are burdened by the long journey.

To the Glory of Life.