by Edie Weinstein
Home from a wondrous Winter Solstice Event created by a group of talented folks that are part of a community called Common Ground Fellowship. In less than 6 weeks from a meeting held in the suburban Philadelphia home of Joni, as a few of us sat around her fireplace, sipping tea and seed planting, we moved from idea to full out delight in the form of a ritual that we called En-Lighten Up! Held at the Ethical Society in Rittenhouse Square, we gathered to honor the shortest day of the year and welcome in the light in the midst of the darkest time. For many, the darkness goes beyond the physical waning of the sun, but also in the facing of our fears and doubts. Last night, we were facing a major snowstorm that left the area blanketed in up to 3 feet of white powder in some places. I was absolutely certain that the snow would cease in time, the roads would be clear and the event would occur. I was so excited that I could barely sleep…like a little kid anticipating a whole bunch of fun, playing with friends. I wasn’t disappointed.
Our model for the event was the ‘techno cosmic mass’, created by theologian and Episcopal priest, Matthew Fox. It is segmented into four components, each representing an aspect of a healing journey. The Via Positiva (the way of the Positive), the Via Negativa (the way of the Negative), the Via Creativa (the way of the creative) and the Via Transformativa (the way of the transformative). Woven through all of this was powerful, deep as the snow, at times mournful and at times celebratory music, poetry, dance, meditation, manifestation, honoring, toasting and blessing.
One exquisite ritual involved infusing white roses with love and healing energy. Earlier in the day, in preparation, we stripped the rose stems of their stickers, manually for most of them, until a rose stripper (no, not what you may be thinking:) arrived. As we were doing so, I found myself thinking how often we encounter ‘stickers’ in our lives that may be painful and mar the beauty of the ‘roses’ that we there for the receving. We dethorned nearly 100 roses and not one drop of blood was spilled, which I particularly appreciated since I was garbed all in white. At the end of the event, we were to take our roses back out into the streets of Philadelphia and either hand one to someone or put it on a windshield. When I left, I clutched two roses, giving one to a bewildered, but receptive young man and another to a couple strolling through snow covered, crisp night aired Rittenhouse Square.
I laughed as I crossed the square, and took in a magical sight. Throughout the day, people had created a display of snow people, some with sunglasses, others with flower pots or coffee cups for hats, one with pink mittens, some with holly strewn with berries for hair. Folks were posing for pictures with the frozen creatures.
A short while later, I approached my car in the parking lot and saw a gift waiting for me. Some kind soul from the event had placed a white rose on my windshield. Evidence indeed that what goes around comes around.
I know for certain that the glow and the warmth generated from the ritual could melt even the deepest of snows, even those that blow cold and dark in our minds As we welcome in the brilliance of the new sun, I know that we ARE the Light. And so it is…