One year I chose to make my annual retreat during December, and someone commented that this was a poor choice as I would be missing the seasonal parties. What I found however, was that I missed nothing! All I had to do was look out a window or take a walk to celebrate December’s natural parties.
I observed downy, hairy, pileated, and red-bellied woodpeckers wildly flinging suet from the bird feeder, and l heard passionate courting calls of great horned and barred owls. At night, casting an eye upward, I watched Gemini, Orion, and Taurus dance across the sky. I found myself envying cardinals in trees flaunting their best seasonal red against the snow, and I was enchanted by green pines gathering flakes and dropping them in festive puffs. This annual party begged for my attention, my participation.
As I pondered these festivities, a quote by Thomas Berry came to mind: "the universe, by definition, is a single, gorgeous celebratory event:. My retreat became an immersion in a daily party, and I not only felt the oneness of life, I heard it, saw it, and celebrated with it as I expanded my identity to include a deepening cosmological consciousness.
During the week, a lovely poem by William Stafford was offered for my prayer:
Breathe on the world. Hold out your hands to it. When mornings and evenings roll along watch how they open and close, how they invite you to the long party that your life is.
May all of us experience time on our rare and precious planet as the long, gorgeous celebratory event that it is!
Photo: Ray Hennessy on Unsplash