Monday, December 24, 2007

Light in the Darkness

Barely keeping my eyes open, but filled with the spirit of Christmas. I am listening to some St. Olaf's Choir in Norway singing in a catheral. I just dozed through Renee Fleming's angelic voice. Earlier this evening, enjoying Andrew's gourmet take on sundry Chrstmas delights, we listened to Sufyan Stevens' Christmas carols.

The myth of the boy king and his mother and the sheep and the Zarathustran visitors is lovely and everything ... but it does not touch on what touches me about Christmas. I am ineluctably northern, and Christmas is the festival of the deepest moment of the northern soul when light and warmth are at their least. And so the festival of that moment is filled with celebration of light and warmth ... the lights, the candles, the hearth, the roasted food, the libations. When life is at its ebb, we fill it with gifts and song and fellowship.

How terrible a world it is that this elemental return is hijacked by religion and commerce and their associated venalities. But Christmas is nevertheless a stepping aside from the venalities and an association again with what brung us. The song, the lights, the fellowship are of one piece with the huddled warmth of a burning log in a Celtic hut, with warming one's hands round an Anglo-Saxon fire, with peasants eating the one goose that they have laid aside.

Christmas is deep and old and the possession of all and of no one. Eternal and ephemeral. One day of sublime thought, hankered after, touched, remembered, gone.

And to all a good night.

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