I smiled as I wrote the title for my Christmas message, as it was something my Mother used to infer every time Christmas rolled around again each year. She would say it felt like she had just put her decorations away and now here she was pulling them all back out again. Now it wasn’t like she let them stay out until next July. On the 2nd of January, those decorations were down and stored, and not a day earlier. Bad luck apparently–we were Scottish after all and we followed all the traditions and superstitions associated to the Christmas period.

This time of the year, several faith traditions, from the Christian`s Christmas, the Jewish Hanukah and when our calendars line up, the Hindus including some Buddhists and Jains celebrate–Diwali, each festival is steeped in the mystical and magical entry of light into our world. Each festival brings together family and community members to take part in their respective rituals, each tradition rich in its stories and mythology of why we are celebrating this special time. Whether they are true or not is quite irrelevant, for it is in the message of the stories, both literal and metaphoric that lies the strength and the enduring magic of each ritual.

In common, all religions sharing in these great festivals of lights, lie in the northern hemisphere, meaning by late December we are all about to go through the longest night of the year. With only minimal hours of daylight before the dark of night once again sweeps in from the sky with temperatures falling, such annual events must have been terrifying to our ancestors. Without science, and in need of ways to explain to their communities what was happening, the myths of each tradition sprang forth and they continue to be celebrated today, even with our science and our knowing why it is so dark so early in the day.

Each year we feel the anticipation of the coming special night, as children we wait for the lights to come on, the candles to be light and almost breathless, child-like we are awestruck by the magical energy we feel coursing through our bodies. While we may age, and our understanding deepen of such mystical things, our inner child still holds onto the same excitement we knew back in our childhood.

As we meet the longest night of the year, it is also the very next day and for the next 6 months, one extra minute of light is added back onto our day as the sun starts its journey back northward and the darkness recedes. It is in the anticipation of the holidays, a closing of our year long cycle of light into dark only to re-emerge into the light that we become very aware of the things that have changed over the preceding year. We may become aware of those who will not be with us this year, either through their passing on, or perhaps someone choosing to no longer journey with us and hence we parted ways. Many things we realize may not be the same such as our jobs, our health, or people and things may no longer be in the same parts of our life any more. With hearts heavy with sadness or minds full of anger, this is the perfect place in the end of year cycle to also shift from the energies which have kept us tied to memories of time and people gone by and over whom we have no control.

Each Christmas I think of my Mom and Dad and miss them and wish they were here, but they died relatively young and I can`t even pretend to know why they left. However, the reality is they did and in accepting that reality, I can move forward and celebrate the festival of lights and Christmas, while holding a very special place for them in my heart.

Two weeks ago, at the end of year gathering of the Compassion Energy Healing Circle at the College, I created a small ritual for all who wished to take part. I asked people to recall who would not be with them this year for Christmas and to hold the intention of connecting with their energy and draw it close. Or if they were carrying an anger towards anyone or any thing, they could release those energies for themselves, not to have to reconnect with anyone, but that in forgiving they were released from the burden of carrying this energy which was hurting them self. Each person had a choice to call in the energy of the person or thing they missed or to let go of the energy of a situation or a person so that they may no longer be burdened and to stop hurting themselves.

On the centre table was a larger light candle from which each person lite their own candle. Then with lighted candle, each person moved toward the front of the circle to place their candle while holding their personal intention for the ritual. As I watched each candle being placed, the energy was rich in the presence of such sacred intentions. I looked back at one point to the table where they were lighting their candles and saw a solemn line of people in single file, lining up to place their candles, there was not a word being spoke. I was struck by the beauty of this solemn experience and it reminded me of the ending of Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, when the people helped by him, lined up to place a stone on his grave, as is Jewish tradition. This is a ritual you can reproduce at home in a few moments of silence, focus on the energy you are missing this Christmas and Hanukah and draw it back into your own energy and fill that empty place inside of you. It is a profoundly beautiful way to connect with those who we can no longer connect with in the physical world.

On behalf of all of us at Transformational Arts, Linda, Maria, Pat, Aline, Shane, Trudy, Jada, Jane and all our faculty members, we extend our best wishes and heartfelt gratitude to everyone who attends, studies and takes part in helping Transformational Arts continue to grow as a beacon of healing light throughout the world.

As for me, I extend from my house to your house, the blessings of light, laughter, health, wisdom and of love. See you in the New Year, 2018.

With Gratitude,
Be Well and Live Well

~ Gord Riddell