Dark Wisdom

To the passerby and the full participant alike, both Hanukkah and Christmas show up as happy holidays.  We not only say that to each other–happy holidays–but I think it’s safe to say that we think of them as happy celebrations. In many ways, and certainly in the ways that we do them, they are. 

When we consider the events that gave rise to our happy holidays, though, they are anything but happy. Hanukkah begins in the face of what appears to be annihilation of the Jewish people and their faith by foreign oppressors. Their temple has been destroyed and desecrated, and the oil needed for any sort of reconsecration of the temple site is all but gone. 

Christmas begins in one version of the story (Luke’s gospel) with forced travel of a couple about to bring their baby into the world for the purposes of taxation. They have no place to stay except a stable with animals as she goes into labor. In the other version of the story (Mathew’s gospel), after the new baby and parents are visited by gentile astrologers offering strange gifts (including a symbol of death), they are warned by a dream to flee the country in the night as a murder is plotted against the child. 

Francis Weller (The Wild Edge of Sorrow) reminds us that grief moves us in the direction of contact, toward the helping hands and the embrace of others. Grief and our plummet into it, offers us a dark wisdom. With this dark wisdom, “we are able to lean into the world and trust the deeper currents that move through all things.”

If we find ourselves in the midst of some grief this holiday season, we are not alone.  We have these ancient stories to remind us that we are traveling a familiar path, and they remind us that other beings will show up to help us along the way. We also have community gathered around us. We can lean into each other and trust the deep currents of help and encouragement that we find there. 

~Bob Patrick

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2 Responses to Dark Wisdom

  1. Lydia says:

    This holiday season has been mixed for me for a variety of reasons and so I fin comfort in these words. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Rita Romero says:

    Thank you for sharing.

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