News – December 30, 2022
Dear Members and Friends,
We’ve just passed the longest night of the year and continue to experience short days and long nights. I like to pay attention to this, tending to notice it especially in the mornings, the way the light comes in through the windows. Perhaps you joined us in our vespers for the Winter Solstice, rituals that harken to a time when ancestors who lived in the cold north created stories and rituals that helped them make it through the winter with hope for the sun’s return. Things are different for us in Houston, Texas and have been for quite a while, with our long hot seasons, food that comes from all over the world and electricity bringing consistent light into the nights. Winter here, except for a few random freezing days, is more of a relief than something to fear, so we have other hopes to bring to our celebration of the solstice. Connecting to the seasons provides an antidote to a different need for us, I think, the need for deep connection to the earth, to the changing seasons from which we feel alienated. Finding and feeling connection feeds the soul. This year we will be celebrating Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox, to tune into the seasonal changes, to celebrate nature and to honor our Pagan traditions. I look forward to being able to mark the seasons through ritual and coming together.
In January, our church-wide theme is Sprouts. The first thing that comes to my mind is the sprouts of the seeds the children planted in the church garden: mustard greens, spinach, carrot tops and kale all sprouted up, ready for us to harvest all winter to provide us with health and good nutrients. Metaphorically sprouts are anything that might be in the beginning of growth. How might I be growing this season? It reminds me of a conversation I had with a naturalist at a retreat center. She talked about the edges of forests or woods. Rather than being a limit-setting boundary, these edges are the location of ecological exchange, where there is greater diversity and abundance at the place of connection between two different ecosystems. It’s a transition zone with aspects from both overlapping ecosystems where more activity, more nutrients and more species thrive. These spaces are fertile. What can we learn from these ecosystem edges about our own lives and how they might sprout? This time of year represents a time for reflection and reevaluation for me, though I like to have time for doing so off and on all year. The edges of life, death, rebirth seem to be with us as the year turns. What will sprout for you this year? What edges does your life place you between? Let’s consider these questions and more together, in our beloved church community.
Looking forward to reflecting, sprouting and growing at the edges of possibility.
Carol Burrus, Director of Religious Community