An excerpt from Fr Laurence’s Christmas message to members of the Weekly Internet Meditation Group, December, 1997.
Almost certainly [the reason for celebrating the birth of Jesus at this time of year] is linked to the pagan feast of the re-birth of the Sun. On December 21st we experience the shortest day of the year, a vivid reminder, in the northern hemisphere anyway, of the brevity of life. It is the last gasp of the old sun. But birth follows death as it always does, because life is not defeated by death or even negated by it. Life is the sum total of all the cycles of birth and death through which we as individuals and we as the cosmos pass through until the end of time.
All this became very vivid for me . . . when visiting New Grange, north of Dublin, which is a five thousand year-old Neolithic burial mound constructed a millennium before Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees for the promised land. It has many beauties and mysteries. Perhaps the secret to its meaning is the little aperture above the door which lets in the first rays of the reborn sun on December 21st to penetrate into the inner burial chamber. Dark for the rest of the year, it is filled with the new light for about seventeen minutes. While I was standing in the chamber (wishing it was December 21st) someone turned off the low electric light and we remained in the deepest darkness I can remember. I was surprised by the atmosphere, neither cold nor spooky, but filled with a womb-like peace and content. Whoever built it and lay their dead there knew about resurrection.
As we celebrate Christmas and the anniversary of Fr. John’s death so close to each other, these are my thoughts. The light of Christmas is the first light of the Resurrection. It catches all in its radiance, the living and the dead, joy and grief, those near and those far away. Each time we meditate we are united in this light, which now shines not just cyclically but continuously in our deepest centre.
After meditation: “Chinook Psalter” in EARTH PRAYERS: 365 Prayers, Poems and Invocations from Around the World, ed. E. Roberts and E. Amidon (New York: HarperOne, 1991), pp. 198-99.
Blessing of galaxies, blessing of stars
Great stars, small stars, red stars, blue ones.
Blessing of nebula, blessing of supernova,
Planets, satellites, asteroids, comets.
Blessing of sun and moon, blessing of earth,
Oceans, rivers, continents, mountain ranges
Blessing of wind and cloud, blessing of rain
Fog bank, snowdrift, lightning and thunder.
Blessing of green plants, blessing of forests:
Cedar, douglas fir, swordfern, salal bush
Blessing of fish and birds, blessing of mammals:
Salmon, eagle, cougar and mountain goat.
May all humankind likewise offer blessing:
Old woman, young woman, wise men and foolish
Blessing of youthfulness, blessing of children
Big boys, little boys, big girls and little ones.
Bless the wisdom of the holy one above us;
Bless the truth of the holy one beneath us;
Bless the love of the holy one within us.