Friday, October 25, 2013
V is for Vigil
One of these is keeping a vigil for the Winter Solstice. Some of my most wonder-filled childhood memories are of going to church on Christmas Eve. It was always cold, and still, usually with snow crunching underfoot. Once we got there, it was nice and warm with all the people gathered together; but since it was a candlelight service it was very dark and more than a little somber. It was like the pause in the breath during those last second waiting for something amazing - everything was poised, on the brink of celebration.. and that night was the celebration of that pause. I have always held a conviction, though I have no sources, that this Christmas Eve attitude is a carry-over from waiting for the sun to rise higher and higher in the sky on those few days after the solstice.
So the tradition I began was an all-night vigil, a single candle and the lights turned out, facing the east and waiting for the sun to rise. I'll often bring my guitar and play some of the Christmas Eve carols from my youth; treating them in a more metaphorical Christ-as-the-sun kind of way. Last year, I invited my oldest daughter to join me. We made hot cocoa, munched on a few cookies, and sat in relative quiet with the still night. She bravely struggled for a few hours, but soon it was just me again. As she gets older, I hope she'll be interested in continuing to carry on this new tradition with me.