This morning it was hard to get out of bed. The urge to hibernate is strong. Turn over and snuggle down into the warmth. Another few minutes. It’s still dark. It’s not right to get up in the dark. Sure signs that the shortest day is almost upon us.
But the cat sits by our heads and purrs. The son begins to stir. And it’s my turn to take the dog. So, slowly, ever so slowly, I pull on clothes, pop tablets from foil, tie laces and collar the dod – all activities that present difficulties to me in the morning.
Eventually, we are out. Just as the sun begins to fully rise. And it is a stunning day. What strikes me most is the stillness. No wind. The world seems to hold its breath. Which has the effect of highlighting any movement. A flock of long tailed tits bounce amongst the branches. A crow flies overhead. A flag of black. Holly stays closer than normal. It feels like something is about to change. The coin is about to flip. The world will begin to transform.
Yesterday, our friends Dave and Carolyn invited us for lunch. A sharing. Dave had taken leeks and potatoes and transformed them into a delicious soup. There was home-made bread. More mince pies. How I love mince pies. It was an excellent lunch. Why is it that home-made soup and bread and mince pies taste so much better than shop bought? I think that it is something to do with the process of transformation. When you transform raw ingredients into food for someone you know, you put a part of yourself into the process. It is something to do with intention. If the food is intended for you. Made with you in mind. It will hold something of that quality. It is made with intention and attention. As opposed to mass produced food which is made without thought. For a faceless consumer.
Which is why food is so important to Christmas/Yule. Because food (especially home-made food) embodies the possibility of transformation at this time of year. From raw ingredients we make a feast. It is a good feast if it is made with care and love. Then those qualities transform the simple, raw ingredients into a celebration. A celebration of care and love. Alchemy. Transformation. And what is important is the intention when the food is made.
Which is not to say we all have to turn into Jamie Oliver/Mary Berry/Masterchefs. I recognise that not everybody loves to cook. For many finding time to cook is the issue. Better to buy ready prepared and give your guests your full attention than render yourself stressed out and grumpy in an ill-judged attempt to be like the TV chefs. That’s TV – it’s not real. Be realistic. Buy if you need to. If you can afford to. But do so with care. With due attention. With good intention. It’s about balance (see yesterday’s post). Find the balance that suits you. That allows you to transform a normal day, 24 ordinary hours, into something special. A day to remember.
And, in remembering that day, you will also be reminded of all previous Christmas/Yules. Of all the people with whom you spent them. Of all the places you spent them. All the ways you passed the time. That concertinaing of time. That temporal loop. Is the point of festivals. Is the reason they are cyclic. Celebrated at the same time each year. Every year. It is the reason for all the rituals and traditions that accompany the festival. They affirm that all time is here, at this moment. The only time is now. And now carries all past and future within itself. Time Travel. And you just thought that you were pulling a cracker!
Why is this important? Well, by recognising that we hold all time, past, present and future here,now, in this moment, we grant ourselves the opportunity to change. We open up the possibility of transformation. We are not just who we are now, nor just the result of who we have been in the past. We are, here in this moment, a bundle of innumerable possible futures. We are not stuck with who we are now or who we have been. We are not bound to stay on the path we are following. We can choose. We can change. Transform.
In writing this, it occurs to me that, all my life, in many different ways, all that I have worked at has been about transformation. It is clearly important to me. As we approach the solstice, in the next few posts, I want to explore why it means so much to me.