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musings from linda 12/29/23

How do YOU like to welcome in the new year?  In Brazil, everyone wears white — and jumps over 7 waves — making a wish on each one…

In the Netherlands, everyone sets off fireworks!! 

In Great Britain churches often ring bells around midnight — muffling the sound before 12:00 AM and then removing the mufflers and ringing them loudly to welcome the new year… 

On December 31, 1850, Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was staying near Waltham Abbey.  When he heard the joyous ringing at midnight he was moved to compose his famous poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” reflecting on what should be rung OUT and also what should be rung IN.

Ring out:  Grief… strife… want… wars… false pride… civic slander… spite… sin.

Ring in:  Love of truth… nobler modes of life… sweeter manners… purer laws… PEACE.

Though he wrote the words 173 years ago, they sound as if they were intended for RIGHT NOW — as we begin the year 2024.  So powerful are its sentiments that it is a new year’s tradition in Stockholm, Sweden to read this poem at midnight on New Year’s Eve! (Click here to hear the poem read in full) and (click here to hear a musical rendition) The most meaningful ways of welcoming a new year often involve some contemplation about setting new

intentions for the future.  Thanks to the vision of Melissa Blundon, a beautiful “Winter Spiral” was created in early December in the upper parking lot area at NMCC to present an opportunity to do exactly that! The spiral image —  found on many ancient stone carvings dating back thousands of years BC — is considered by scholars to represent the cycle of life, death and rebirth. “Walking the spiral” is an especially beautiful meditative exercise…You are invited to enter with an intention, a question or a desire to shed something which no longer serves you and that you would like to leave behind in the coming year — then to listen with your heart as you walk for the gift of the path.

Melissa even wrote a little song to sing as you walk:  

“Round and round the circle light:  round and round the moon will guide;

Round and round the sun will shine, ‘til we find our love Divine.“

After the Longest Night service in the sanctuary last week, several folks— from church and also from the wider community — went outside to carry candles up a candlelit pathway to walk the spiral — and THIS  Sunday —  December 31 at 4:30 in the afternoon —  there will be a New Year’s Eve Ceremony at the Spiral,  offering a special way to move into the new year…  hope to see you there!As we transition from 2023 to 2024, may we ALL  — using Tennyson’s words —  

“Ring in the larger heart — the kindlier hand…

    Ring out the darkness of the land —

        ring in the Christ that is to be.“


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