I have just returned home from the beach, so I really understand the meaning of those words "The beach is calling..." One night while at the beach, my sister and I took a moonlight stroll along the sand. We wandered for a while, taking in the endless expanse of sea and stars, looking at the paths of silver light the moon cast over the water, as the dogs roamed and her young son explored. My sister stopped and stood with her toes in the surf.
"Being at the beach makes me feel so, so..." she said. "Rested?" I asked. "Refreshed?" "No. Normal," she finally replied. I nodded. I knew what she meant.
The beach is one of those archetypal places in nature where you can interact with what it means, with the symbolism. The beach brings you back to the beginning. The endless repetition of the waves, the in and out of the tide, the screaming sea gulls. The fresh wildness of it all.
What is it that the beach calls us to? To go back, to rediscover, to re-find ourselves at the beginning and re-set. Ultimately, this beginning that we seek at the beach is the same beginning that the Gospel of John opens with: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." We search for that same wind that moved over the formless void in the beginning, and drew new mountains and lands into being. We seek not just to be renewed, but to be re-created by that same Holy Spirit. The One who never grows tired, or weary, or just bored of re-creating but instead delights in bringing about the "freshest, deep down things," the continual "greening" of creation as Hildegarde put it.
I know that was what my sister was seeking. More than just a few days of vacation, she was searching for a return to her beginning, back to who she really is, who she was created to be. She was looking for that specific, certain wind that would revive and refresh her, and give her the strength to continue with her life in a few days time. She was searching for the God who walks on water, that untamed freshness Himself. That's why we all go to the beach, in the end, and stare out over the water, and that's why we can always hear the beach calling....
2018 Ornament Details Nina Aube #7 in series
This ornament is the 7th in the Cookie Cutter Christmas series. The series features a little mouse engaged in a variety of activities. I call this series the "Living a Little Life" series. Each ornament asks the question: what's so great about living a "little" life? The answer: lots!
This ornament is called the Feast of Dedication, also known as the Festival of Hanakkah. This Jewish festival is also called the Festival of Lights, so how appropriate that when this ornament is placed in the light, the tips of the candles look as though they are lit! Another visual teaching element to this ornament are the branches and the roots. They remind us, and the Jewish people, that our faith has been handed on to us by many witnesses and previous generations. The branches are above the blue Star of David, referring to those alive today, carrying on the tradition, while the roots under the star point to those who went before. Nevertheless, all are connected through the same faith.
Although it is fairly obvious why this day is called the Festival of Lights, since the centerpiece of the 8 days includes the ritual lighting of the menorah, why is it also referred to as the Feast of Dedication? In fact, the Hebrew word "Hanakkah" or "Chanukah" translates to "dedication," signifying the importance of the dedication. Www.history.com explains "Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem during the second century B.C, following the triumph of a small group of Jewish rebels, known as the Maccabees, against their oppressors the Greek-Syrians, who had defiled the temple by erecting an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs within its sacred walls. In order to rededicate the temple, the Maccabees had to light a menorah that would burn within the temple at all times. However, they only had enough pure olive oil to last for one day." Miraculously, however, the oil burned for 8 full days, enabling the re-dedication of the Temple.
Since offering sacrifice to alien gods and eating pigs were both strictly forbbiden to the Jewish people, being considered a personal insult to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the re-dedication and purification of the Temple were extrememly important.
Since then, the lighting of the menorah has served as a way to remember (that's re-member, meaning to participate through ritual in the original saving event) God's saving action in helping the unlikey band of rebels defeat a much larger army, and the reclamation and restoration of the center of worship for the Jewish people. It reset the balance, so to speak. The people could once again approach God in his house. Hanakkah is a celebration and reminder that God can and will do the same thing today.
For Christians, reflecting on the lighting of the menorah can serve as a good reminder to take a look at our own temples. Today, temples are both our individual hearts and homes, as well as an entire parish community. It would do us well, as we light our own Advent candles to await the coming of the Light of Lights, Jesus, to look at the altars to strange gods we have erected, in our lives and in our communities, and to notice who and what we are prepared to sacrifice. We could probably all use a re-dedication festival.