A Happy New Year. Is your Christmas tree safely packed away in the loft? Should you be more more ecologically conscious, maybe it’s planted out in the garden or mulched down? Are those decorations neatly stowed, those last crumbs of Christmas cake eaten (and new diet begun)? We always have a rogue decoration that escapes the grand cleanup of course, only to surface later as we scan the landscape in a weird version of ‘Where’s Wally?’
Though if your church tradition follows a liturgical cycle, you might, like me, still have your nativity scene on display. In our house it stays out until Candlemas, Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and the end of the Epiphany Season. The Shepherds have hurried back to their flocks and the Magi have arrived. ‘Epiphany Dance’ said Google in their suggestions menu when I looked up the festival just now. I love the idea of that: a kaleidoscope of light and jewel-like colours lightening the darkness of what can be – for all kinds of reasons, a bleak bleak time of year.
Lighting, yet intermingling with the darkness. For Herod is closing in. The conclusion of the visit shows the Holy Family fleeing for their lives and the curtain lifts on the the next scene of the liturgical drama: The Massacre of the Holy Innocents. The scene is set. On whatever level you choose to understand this account, it’s not difficult to draw parallels with our world now. You only have to watch The News to know that darkness is ever present.
I worked on the picture above through the holiday season, partly as celebration, yet also as a means of sitting with those raw emotions and cycle of ups and downs that inevitably arise for me on these occasions. Just the simple action of doing something with my hands helps me quieten the monkey mind, (provided I dwell on the process and quit worrying about the ‘need’ to ‘produce!) Quietening helps me focus on the moment, to ‘be’ with whatever arises for me without being pulled away into those spirals of negativity. The act of creation creates a holding space, a space where I can safely acknowledge, begin to work through yet not suppress my feelings.
Oh, and to be more succinct – it can be fun!
Materials if you’re interested: Marabu Mixed-Media Art Crayons