Saturday, December 24, 2011

Anything Worth Knowing

A couple days ago I posted about the Winter Solstice, inspired in part by my anticipation our annual Feast of the Winter Solstice. This annual potluck, hosted by the Fremont Arts Council and attended by anywhere from 500 to 1000, has become one of the most anticipated events in our family's calendar. Each year our community takes over a vacant warehouse of some sort, spending the days leading up to the event "building" the raw, cavernous space into a place of festive beauty. We hang the walls with greenery, the ceilings with chandeliers, and install artworks both large and small.

It's a night of bands and acrobats, dancers and plate jugglers, ritual and bawdiness, quite reflection and raucous shouting. We wear horns and wings, fur and twinkle lights. It's a playful, joyful event as holiday events should be.

One of the things that often tires me out about the holidays is that it often feels like it’s all about just going to different places to have conversations, which is fine as far as that goes, but sometimes I want to do things with the other people. That’s why I like to spend my Feast “working" the door for the bulk of the evening, which I turn into a personal quest to touch every single person who passes through our evergreen archway. And I'm not just talking about some shoulder-tapping, air-kissing hug, but a real one involving full body contact and time to feel it. I spent nearly 4 hours hugging every single person who passed through the door. Oh boy, that was fun!

The Ice Queens processed among us in their stunning dresses of
paper and bamboo cane, bringing their light and beauty into this
longest night.

It’s already a touchy-feely community and my little piece of annual performance art meets with responses ranging from indulgence to enthusiasm. I made eye contact with each of them, welcoming them, telling them as I do the children each morning as they arrive at school, "I'm happy you're here." I imagined our souls were connecting for those brief moments. I was often pulled in by the peaceful power of what felt like ancient souls, while in others I sensed an adolescent restlessness.

Our friend Tiberio decorated human bodies with fruit slices, a piece of
performance art both strange and beautiful.

Many of the hugs were bawdy or subtly sexual. I liked those a lot. Others were heavy with sadness and need. I gave those people as much time as they wanted. Many took it on perfunctorily, an approach I worked hard to shake by making them stand there with me, not letting go until we had a real moment. There were some who enthusiastically shared my “duties” for a time, partnering me in the effort, giving and receiving hugs from friends and strangers, spreading a little love.

We made a community sculpture of clay, creating something that only
all of us could have made together.

The best hugs, of course, were the ones returned to me with equal energy. Pow! We both wanted to be there. We understood. We were pure love.

We gathered together in the center of our space for the annual ritual of drums, feverish belly
dancing, and light. It's an intense and wonderful moment of community.

This is the experience I have every morning at school as the children arrive. We're so happy to see each other. And there is nothing more magnificent than the hugs I get from the 2-year-olds when they crowd around my stool at the end of the day. We are so grateful for the time we’ve been together. I’m proud when I get to share that kind of unqualified acceptance with adults. We forget how easy and how wonderful it is.

Then we all came forward with our candles, adding them one by one to the dark clay
we had earlier formed together.

This may sound a little crazy to some of you, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I know that a lot of people look at us from the corners of their eyes, suspicious of grown-ups engaged in such frivolousness, wearing costumes, hugging, flowers in our hair, frolicking together like silly children. 

We each bring our own light into the dark, but it is only a pinprick.
It's only when we all bring our lights together that we can really see in 
the dark. It's together that we make the world light.

By now everyone knows that children must play. What everyone needs to know is that adults must play as well. It's still the only way we learn anything worth knowing.

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1 comment:

Kitty said...

Wow, this is not the American community we normally hear about where no one speaks to each other and it's all about TVs, fast food and guns!! Great to hear about adults playing too, and your festival looks wonderful. And from this I can maybe get an inkling of why your community nursery is so wonderful.

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