I'm thinking of the intertwining of light and shadow again. Today there was retreat space set up at the meetinghouse, so that people could come as they were able, and spend time in Advent space.
There were tables set up with supplies for folding origami cranes or working creatively with paper supplies or decorating candles with malleable colored beeswax. And there was a large spiral laid out on the floor, outlined with pine branches and tree stumps for setting candles on, with the path leading in to the glowing Christ candle at the center.
We were invited to spend time in prayer or pondering questions such as:
In what ways are the Darkness and Light interacting in you and in the world this Advent season?
How have you seen darkness becoming the "cradle of the dawning"?
Can you name the spots of light and the dark places of this past year?
If we chose to do so, we could carry an unlit candle into the spiral, slowly, mindfully, prayerfully, light it at the Christ candle and then carry it out, placing it on one of the stumps.
On the way in with my unlit candle, I noticed one golden origami crane catching the light as it hung on the mobile that has been made of many origami cranes folded in prayer for Heidi's healing.
And I noticed the dance of the light and shadow of candles that others had left on the stumps of wood.
I didn't have my camera along, so this is a re-creation at home. I looked down at flames that were flickering slightly in the movement of air in the room. Beneath them, the white candles glowed in their wooden holders.
Beneath each holder there was a pool of light, dancing a bit as the flame flickered. And at the center of each pool of light, there was a dancing shadow, cast by the candle itself. In one case, the drips and decorations on the side of the candle were such that the cast shadow looked like a bird, moving gently in its pool of cast light.
On the way out, my attention went to the flame I carried. When I held it at eye level, I could see the beautiful clear blue at the base, then the warm dancing light above. And at the center of the flame, a shadow that was part of the flame and so of light, and yet still a shadow, around and above the wick.With each step I took the flame bent and bowed regally, first to one side, then to the other. I soon had the verse from the old Shaker hymn singing through my head:
When true simplicity is found
to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
to turn, turn shall be our delight,
till by turning, turning we come round right.
How appropriate to accompany a spiral walk. And how fitting with the last questions we were given to ponder: Have any new insights emerged [as you walked the spiral]? Are you feeling called to any new action, to a shift in your current practices, or to letting something go?
Before I entered the spiral, I had folded an origami crane of black paper shot with black threads that caught the light and shimmered. It seemed fitting for this season of ruminating on darkness and light. I left it on the art table.
As I finished the spiral, I realized I wanted to fold another crane to go with it, one of some light colored paper. I shuffled through the papers that were there, and chose a light blue, sprinkled with lighter blue strands. It reminded me of the blue of the flame, and the blue light that Heidi has written about experiencing during her radiation treatment.
I finished folding it, and reached across the table to put it beside the black crane -- and discovered someone had already folded a tiny blue crane and placed it lovingly on the wings of the larger black crane.
Darkness and light.
Dark paper with light threads, dancing candle shadows and flames, and a tiny blue bird of hope.
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.