Friday, December 21, 2007

Midnight in the Barn history, and Solstice Blessings

A brief history of the "Midnight in the Barn" event:

For many years, I did a neighbor's chores while she travelled over Christmas. I also took a live lamb to First Presbyterian Church for their Christmas Pageant--what fun! After the bustling pageant, after taking the lamb home and getting it settled back in, I would drive up to my neighbor's to feed the horses. It was always the high point of the evening, of all of Christmas: To simply sit on a bale of hay in her barn, in the dim light, listening to the horses munch on their feed, the small sounds of roosting chickens, the howl of a far-off coyote, my own breathing. Smelling the good, familiar barn smells, the livestock and hay. Seeing the sparkle of stars in the crisp night sky. The contrast of my warm coverall-ed body to the frosty air on my face.

As I waited for Caro, the Holsteiner, to finish methodically chewing his grain, I would imagine a weary, fulfilled young mother settling into blankets spread on the hay after giving birth, a snuggly-wrapped baby sleeping nearby in a feed rack. Despite the upheaval of travelling far from home and not being surrounded by family and friends, it must have been a peaceful and nurturing birthing place compared to the glaring, frantic, uncomforting delivery room that "welcomed" my daughter not quite 30 years ago. How many lambs, calves, kittens, and foals had been quietly born under that same stable roof? What better place for the "Lamb of God" to be born, to lead us towards peace?

I always returned home relaxed and refreshed, no matter how long and busy the day had been.

Some cultures hold that the animals can talk at midnight on Christmas Eve, and give them special food treats. I've never heard them speak English, but they always teach me something about simply BEING, and what's really important. Even as little as I participate in conventional Christmas traditions such as shopping, decorating, gift-giving, special baking, etc., taking time to appreciate the deep quiet of the barn at night is a welcome respite from the season's often frantic pace.

I invite you to join me in experiencing that special peace, as a new tradition at Pinwheel Farm. If the scheduled time conflicts with your other Christmas Eve activities, of course you are welcome to come earlier or later, just contact me ASAP so I know ahead of time. Your feedback on this year's event will be considered when planning next year's.

And today, take time to reflect on light--the return of lengthening days as we cross the year's longest night--the Winter Solstice--into official "winter" (then what have we BEEN having?????). Today begins the turning of all plants and livestock--all things connected with the natural world--towards new growth and fruitfulness. Let us welcome that quickening energy of hope, enthusiasm and growth into our own lives, remembering that we are unavoidably part of that natural world. We can let ourselves be rested, energized and nourished by the seasonal rhythms and harmonies of all of God's creation, starting in this moment.

Be blessed!

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