In the final stretch of the calendar year, there is much to pay attention to. Lots of cultural traditions and liturgical moments converge in these final months.
From here on out the river moves fast, and something special will happen if you let go of the bank and let the current take you.
This post (should you choose to accept it) is to prime your imagination for the ride.
Autumn is a bell for change. Colors, aromas and temperature embodies the continual transformation of the Christ in us– death and life, ever recycling– and invites us to feel it in our bones. It’s a mixed emotional ride for many of us, however. As Gretel Ehrlich writes, in autumn “we hear a double voice. One says that everything is ripe; the other says that everything is dying. The paradox is exquisite.”
That intense mix resonates with these last few months of the year. As a liturgist, I think about how natural markers in time demand or romance our attention. At the end of the year, there are a whole lot of them piled up. It can be a spiritual practice to follow them– to keep in touch with the invitations to integrate what you feel and know, like you’d follow someone on Twitter.
Here’s a quick tour of some of these moments for your preparation. Notice the wide range of experiences we are invited into.
- Harvest: Celebration! Seeds have, without any advice from us or wi-fi, made food. We are woven into all creation.
- Day of the Dead, All Hallow’s Eve: Re-membering our dead dears, accepting our past, feeling grief and letting go.
- All Saints: Each of us is woven into a great web of holy witnesses. We ask how to be purely present in the flow of past-future.
- Thanksgiving: Refreshing our gratitude; imagining a thriving, generous life.
- Advent: Whisper it: Mystery! Longing for newness, we are pregnant with change.
- Winter Solstice: The darkest day of the year, quiet and stark. The ancients used to climb the mountain with fire to help stoke up the sun.
- Christmas: Surprise and celebration! Holy-ness is among us; in fact, our very lives carry the Christ.
- New Year’s: With hope and with tender trust, we begin again.
- Epiphany: Share what you have; that’s the point of all this.
Quite a ride.
How does it feel to see your life as part of these moments? Celebration and contemplation, gathering and letting go, remembering and starting again.
To be a liturgist is to be a farmer. I often find myself in leadership simply inviting people to pay attention to what the current season calls for. It’s not to be taken literally. These moments don’t just happen once a year on the calendar, like, “better get ready to be grateful, because Thanksgiving Day is coming!” No, all these days are practice for what’s possible every day. It’s a spiritual life that recognizes what your life is asking for.
You probably have favorite things coming up as well as moments for which you have natural resistance. But listen: you’ve experienced all manner of things this year. These next few months offer the opportunity to integrate these experiences. Each moment coming your way is an invitation to acknowledge, accept and welcome your whole life experience.
Are you open to that?
A deep breath of space in your body is all that’s needed for today.