I have been thinking about this subject since seeing the picture Sweet Irene did (Sweet Wood Talking) of the silver ball with the stained glass windows reflected in it. I thought this was beautiful, and reminded me of Christmas, maybe the reflection you would see on a silver ball on a Christmas tree in a Church. The picture, with its digital reworking, also had rather a contemporary feel, which somehow brought the stained glass windows (an ancient religious artform)up to date. The windows refected in the silver bauble are, for me, where the spiritual meets the sensuous side to the festival.
I know that Sweet Irene likes churches, and so do I, though I am not religious, so I hope what I'm going to say will offend anyone with cherished religious beliefs. I like the beauty of churches and one of my favourite moments of the year is when we attend the carol service at our local church on Christmas Eve. This never fails to send shivers down the back of my neck.
I like the way you see neighbours and people you know all venturing out onto the cold streets, one or two at first, then a few more as you go along, and then all joining together through the doors of the church, like so many streams joining together to make a river. Not quite the sea of faith, as most of them, including us, only go once a year, but still there is something drawing us in. I like the symbolism of the church, the spire reaching for the sky, the columns and arches inside also trying to reach upwards beyond the purely mundane to the sky blue ceiling. I like the alter with the cross and candles polished to a sparkle by the ladies who also dress the church with holly and greenery tied with a red ribbon. I always think these are nature's winter colours like holly with its red berries, or the robin, with its red breast a vibrant challenge to the grey bleakness of mid winter. Also seen are the sprigs of mistletoe, which hark back to the ancient pre-Christian religions and festivals.
We all get a candle to hold, which my kids like, as they think it is slightly daring. The lights are turned low and we sing the carols in the dark to candlelight, which is again a symbolic gesture. The carols are wonderful, and probably my favourite music of all, but not music that I could reasonably listen to all year long in my kitchen. 'In the bleak midwinter...' My kids walk around humming carols for a few days afterwards. I find the whole thing a sensuous experience.
I don't know why I am thinking of Christmas at this time of the year. It was looking at Sweet Irene's picture what did it!