When I was younger my parents used to put up a mistletoe ornament every year, in kitchen doorway, and Dad liked to kiss women under it. This year when Mom was putting up the Christmas decorations she was going to skip the mistletoe, and I asked her if we could put it up after all. I don’t know who will kiss under it, but I like seeing it there.
Since I started creating adult coloring pages and sharing works in progress on my Instagram feed, I’ve also been following a lot of amazing illustrators, like Margaret Berg. I absolutely love her stuff, and used some of her winter-themed illustrations as inspiration for this adult coloring page.
Last year a dear friend of mine gifted me with a link to a YouTube video every day between December 1 and the solstice. This year he’s continuing the tradition, for which I’m very thankful. He exposed me to so much new music last year, and I love the idea of a winter solstice playlist. I grew up going to church every Sunday. This time of year always meant Christmas carols and singing and concerts and music, music, music.
As I have eased myself away from the faith of my childhood, one of the things I still find myself cherishing is the idea of waiting. The Christian periods of Advent and Lent are part of my lifeblood, ingrained in my cells. We wait for the coming of the light in the winter. We wait for rebirth in the spring.
Of course, the Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter were laid on top of much older festivals – Yule and Ostara. I feel a kinship with earth’s northerners – my ancestors – who lit bonfires to coax back the sun. I just looked up Ostara on Wikipedia, and discovered that the root of the word is a High German adverb expressing movement towards the rising sun. I love that. I am an ôstar singing woman.
And I wait. The days are so short. It’s nearly dark when I leave work every night. It’s barely dawn when I go to work in the morning. I want to sing of my longing, and my ultimate joy.
My friend – the same one who’s sending the video links – invited me to his church this morning to hear local folk singer Claire Danaher perform at the 10:30 a.m. service. The church is a familiar one for me – I recorded two CDs there with different choirs, and performed a gospel solo there during a jazz vespers service a million years ago.
Claire sang Bruce Cockburn’s Lord of the Starfields, which has become one of my new favorite songs this year. I find the words running through my head all the time. “O love that fires the sun, keep me burning.”
My friend admitted this morning that he didn’t have a video chosen for today yet. I laughed. And sent him this one when I got home:
Soul cake. That’s what I’m needing. Food for my ôstar singing soul. While I wait for the sun…
Back story having to do with the Sting video: I just realized when I was watching it that I have literally stood in the same spot where Sting is singing in this video, 10 1/2 years before the concert was filmed. I was visiting Durham for the first time. A friend, knowing I had studied medieval art history (including the construction of Europe’s Gothic cathedrals), wanted to show me the real thing.
I stood in that spot in Durham cathedral, looked up at the arches far, far above my head, and burst into tears. Men had built this place with their own hands – no engines, no hydraulics. It had taken them decades. I was overwhelmed by their accomplishment, acheived with nothing more than simple tools and determination…