ISSUES OF FAITH: Candles of the heart

THE CHRISTMAS AND holiday season is now upon us in earnest.

Will this season of celebration only add to the busyness and swirl of your life, or will it also provide a time for you to stop and attend to the qualities of your heart?

Attending to the qualities of the human heart is what Christmas and this holiday season is about for me — or at least it’s what I want it to be about.

Long ago, I got past fretting about the literalness of both Santa Claus and the Child of Bethlehem.

To me, they are equally mythological in content: the Child of Bethlehem is as little related to the historical reality of Rabbi Yeshua bar-Yusef (Jesus, son of Joseph) as Santa Claus is to St. Nicholas.

Rather, these figures are symbols of the human heart, images filled with the deepest and most tender longings, dreams and hopes for human life.

Santa Claus embodies for children the qualities of warmth, goodness and generosity, and the Child of Bethlehem embodies for adults the freshness, potentiality and divinity of newborn life.

Whether or not these symbols are still valued by you or important for you, they may set a tone for the season.

They call to us, saying, “Take a little time now for your interior side, your imaginative side, your tender side; take some time with your very human heart.”

In the religious fellowship of which I’m a minister, we attend to this season of celebration by lighting candles that both anticipate the coming of Christmas and announce its arrival.

On each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas, we light candles representing bedrock qualities of our humanity — faith, hope, love and joy — and then on Christmas Eve, we each light our own candle, symbol of all that is holy in our hearts and lives.

The lighting of these candles in our services is also a reminder and an invitation to us to take the time to light candles in our homes.

These candles we light in our homes are for Christmases past, touching memories of joy and sorrow.

And, for Christmases future, speaking of possibility.

But most of all, these candles are for Christmas present, to slow us down so the sound of our own beating human hearts can be heard and honored.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Bruce Bode is minister of the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. His email is bruceabode@gmail.com.

More in Life

Emily Little, left, owner of Buena Luz Bakery, and artist Gianna Andrews stand in front of the mural.
Uptown Arts District to unveil mural on Saturday

The Uptown Arts District will host a launch party… Continue reading

Haley Petty, 17, of Agnew earned reserve market champion with Roast the rabbit at the Clallam County Junior Livestock Auction at the Sequim Prairie Grange in 2022. This year’s auction is set for Aug. 3. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Livestock auction set for next month

The Clallam County Junior Livestock Auction will be conducted next… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: Master the art of watering

MY DEAR, DEAR friend Edna asked me to do an article on… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Hurry there on foot! Get healed!

MARK 6:30-34, 53-56 is the Gospel Reading for this Sunday, and one… Continue reading

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Abundance: A Spiritual Reality” at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Schellink is the guest speaker at Unity in the Olympics, 2917 E. Myrtle Ave.
Weekend program scheduled for Unity in the Olympics

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Abundance: A Spiritual… Continue reading

Bode scheduled for OUUF weekend program in PA

The Rev. Bruce Bode will present “Separation and Connection:… Continue reading

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith.
Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Move at the… Continue reading

During the PSHA game show at the Crosby arena in Agnew last weekend, Duncan Parks, 18, and Ed ran a blazingly fast “A” division time of 8.45 in the Keyrace. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)
HORSEPLAY: Olympic Peninsula equestrians beat the heat

ARE YOU FEELING beat by the heat? It’s sure had me feeling… Continue reading

Scribble Bots STEAM event for tweens at NOLS locations

Kids in grades 4–7 will build robots that scribble… Continue reading

Emma Weller
Former Port Angeles Roughrider graduates from Harvard

Port Angeles High School alumna Emma Weller recently graduated… Continue reading

Dan Peacock, on left, receives the 2024 Community Service Award from Lora Brabant, president of the Clallam County School Retirees Association.
Peacock receives retirees’ community service award

Dan Peacock has received the 2024 Community Service Award… Continue reading

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award.
Thomas Batey recognized

The DAISY Foundation has recognized Thomas Batey with its DAISY award. Batey… Continue reading