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Friday, 21 December 2012 19:29

A Winter Solstice Poem for Families

The Tree of Lights The Tree of Lights

On the Family Tree Mediation facebook page, we have a weekly tradition in tandem with our Pinterest page.  We call it Our Weekly Celebration of the Family Tree.  Each week we choose an inspiring photo of a beautiful tree and reflect on what the photo might say about families.  

Last week’s celebration of the family tree was called “The Tree of Lights” and evoked the following reflection: “Each member in the family glows with a beautiful vibration he or she has been singing since before any of us had an agenda or experience. The holidays are a time, amid the busyness, to get quiet enough to enjoy each other's nature singing, to bathe in the gift of the glow each one gives off, that cannot be improved upon or corrected.”  (See http://www.facebook.com/FamilyTreeMediation and http://pinterest.com/fmlytrmediation/)

The tree is such a powerful force and symbol, with its skyward direction, offer of shelter, witness of time, and embrace of the diversity of its branches.  In my favorite poem, the first in Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke uses the tree as a symbol of the enlightenment growing within the hearts and minds of the animals of the forest as they listen to the poet Orpheus sing.  Rilke begins: "A tree ascended there!  Oh, pure transendence!/ Orpheus sings! Oh, tall tree in the ear!" [Translation by Stephen Mitchell]  I like to think the affection I developed for these lines long before I became a mediator foretold my own calling to be a listener and a provider of space in which mutual understanding may grow.  At the same time, these lines have also long spoken to me of my own identification with Orpheus, the poet, the singer of meaning who songs brings people together.

Revisiting the tree of lights post on our facebook page, I remembered a poem I wrote almost thirty years ago as an English major in college and I realized how meaningful the ebb and flow of family relationships have always been to me.  As the poem is also about the holidays, I thought I would share it with you on this widely celebrated winter solstice, the night for which the ever green tree has always been a symbol of magical vitality even in the darkest of winter nights. 

As you will see, the constancy of the family tree, amid every kind of change of season, has clearly held a place of central value for me for a long time.

Christmas, Home

To come in,
to unlock the door
                into the darkness of calm
lives that lay sleeping
                but have proceeded without
my presence in the frame
                of this entrance
                                I set down my bags
and there is no one to hear
                the sound that echoes in the hall
of this homecoming

                *  *  *  *  *  *  *

In their respective chambers
                They lie sleeping
                                their worlds alive
where I cannot go
                my family
the world I now must reawaken
                and rub my eyes
as they become accustomed
                to the changed light of home
                                in which I stand
                once more, changed

                *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I fumble
to turn on the Christmas lights
                and marvel that with a switch
they glow upon the tree
                different colors, warm
and becoming warmer
                                they begin to blink
                to darkness
                                to light, to color
the constellations change and
                the relationships
                                are music
                rhythmic melodies of travel,
absences
                                and inspirations
together they combine in the harmony
                                of changing
                syncopations
rediscovered
to become this music danced
                upon the tree of Christmas
in and out the branches, the lights
                                coming and going
                                creating an aura
soft in the brilliance of color
                                around the axis
                where atop
rests the star, constant
                                light by which I am led,
                Christmas, home.

 

I wish everyone a warm and happy Winter Solstice and a beautiful holiday season filled with peace in the presence of all the ever-changing relationships that make up your unique and beautiful family tree.