Midwinter Passage 2016

Posted on Dec 20, 2016 in Music, Seasonal Messages

Some mornings on my walk to work, if the traffic lights are right, I take a shortcut through the Quarters up The Armature pedestrian mall. When I cross over 103A Avenue at 96th Street, I pass two bronze figures on either side of the mall, I sometimes call The Coyote Men.+ You might call them Sitting Man and Standing Man, Tricksters by any other name. They form a kind of gate to the neighbourhood. In place of their heads and hands, the heads and hands of deer, baby black bear, mother grizzly, turtle, squirrel, chipmunk, raccoon, blue jay, wolf, coyote, fox, hare–I’ve lost count–pop out of collar and sleeve.

It’s like crossing a threshold to pass them or maybe a gauntlet, and I always make a prayer in touch, glance, or word. Some people leave offerings. I have witnessed a matching bronze boot stuck on one of Standing Man’s small heads, a lacy blue tunic pulled over Sitting Man’s torso, and on another day, a red blanket draped over his shoulders. The Coyote Men offer a preparation for the real tricksters about to come into my day, most of them sitting behind a desk, in a shop, or on a television screen.

At Midwinter Solstice we cross a threshold too. Its coming marks the mid-point of winter, the division between the old year and the new, the longest night and the shortest day. It’s a hard season for for anyone living with loss. Christmas has so much riding on it, impossible hopes sometimes: the vision of a holy child, a holy mother, a holy family. My disasters this past year have been minor: a burst pipe, a break-in, and a couple of small repairs and rehabilitations to the aging body. Real disaster is this: debilitating illness, violence, and war.

Whenever we move forward it becomes a question of faith. Will we leave offerings? Will we be protected? Will we pass through? We don’t know what the future holds, only the concreteness of this present moment. There are echoes of this in the vows families, friends and even communities make to each other, sometimes spoken, often silent: for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. We move forward.

I leave you with an ancient hymn arranged by the contemporary composer, Paul Mealor, whose music it seems to me comes from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Music that is a trickster in its own way, pressing so many facets of the world into my heart: Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where kindness and love are, there is God. Or Spirit. Or Wisdom.

+Brandon Vickerd, Wildlife (2015)


    December 20, 2016

    Dearest Audrey ~ on my path you come to reveal the embrace of Time ~ the wondering through alleys and sculptures, a journey of morning till night when at time wondering what will be the surprise of this day? oops snow fell during the night in Nanaimo and VIU plus all the schools are closed ~ my o my
    yes snow covered streets how long will it last ~ oops another morning it has rain last night now we are ice covered streets ~ and this is our winter ~ the sun is dying but not for long ~ down and up the sine wave for some billions of years ~ it will come back up and rise in Aries ~ love astrotheology ~
    love, light, peace and chocolate ~jano

  2. Faith Fernalld
    December 21, 2016

    I so like your ability to see the divine and the magic in the everyday–(a poet’s gift)

  3. Allison Kydd
    December 22, 2016

    I was touched by your words. Have you collected your seasonal reflections into one volumn yet? Also love that Taize hymn.

    • Audrey
      December 22, 2016

      The Taize chant is powerful too. Paul Mealor’s version is a new composition. The original hymn (same text, different music again) may be from the 4th century or earlier. Yes, a collection of Seasonal Reflections is on my (long) writing to-do list:)

  4. Pearl Gregor
    December 22, 2016

    Beautiful reflection on Solstice. The days unity. Merry Christmas and Happy Year. Love this music.

  5. Linda Bumstead
    December 29, 2016

    Audrey – I really felt comforted by your Midwinter Passage. It is so realistically and gracefully hopeful. All the very best to you in the New Year.