Finding peace in the holiday hustle

By From page A1 | December 15, 2011

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The Longest Night Service

When: 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Unitarian Universalist Church, 27074 Patwin Road

FYI: Donations of wool and fleece scarves, hats and socks for the Interfaith Winter Rotating Shelter will be collected

Blue Christmas Service

When: 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Davis Community Church, 412 C St.

Peace on Earth, good will toward man/woman/child seems to be found more readily in holiday cards than in real life.

It doesn’t take a long time to think of a handful of emotion-filled events just within the past six months. People are occupying and protesting, while others are rioting and revolutionizing. Corrupt leaders are suspected of atrocities, while others are awaiting sentencing for the same.

On top of that, it’s nearly winter. The days are sunny with a strong nip in the air. The nights are frigid and continue to get longer until the winter solstice on Dec. 22.

For these reasons and others, this season is one of the toughest for many people to endure.

In an effort to lighten up these dark days, local churches are opening their doors in nontraditional services to reach out to the community and bring peace back to the center of the season.

“There is a deep sense of need,” said the Rev. Beth Banks of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis. “It’s not just pushing back against the commercialization of Christmas. It’s about the winter solstice. It’s the darkest time of the year, and it’s a great time for reflection.”

Reflection is a key point to the Longest Night Service at the church, 27074 Patwin Road, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The service will feature individual and special singing, reading, candle-lighting and times of quiet. It is considered a “spiritual” service and not a “religious” service. It is open to everyone.

“They’ll have the opportunity to drop down into a deeper place of themselves because they’re sitting in community,” Banks said. “We will also have music that will move them to that place; we’ll have silence that they rarely find, with readings that will be evocative and appeal to their senses. And music that will be healing.”

Music and meditation are also a part of the ecumenical Blue Christmas Service from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Davis Community Church, 412 C St. This service, which also includes Yolo Hospice, is also open to everyone.

It will feature singing, prayer, meditation and candle-lighting. After the meeting, leaders from the various faiths will be on hand to answer questions.

“This service, based on a variety of Christian faith traditions, will offer a quiet time for prayer and meditation, enabling the community to come together in support to find hope during this holiday season,” a Yolo Hospice news release said.

At the Longest Night Service, community members may light candles for the loss of a loved one, a personal disappointment or for any reason they have. But mostly, they can relax and take in the songs by the Threshold Choir of Davis, instrumental music and readings.

“The music is meditative and contemplative,” said Laura Sandage, who will lead the worship along with Karen Klussendorf. “It’s not like a rousing singalong. Most are very soft with few words that are designed to focus your attention. The words are about opening your heart and wellness.”

The Unitarian Universalist Church has hosted the service for the past eight years. Banks, who has been the church’s pastor since 2000, says there is a noticeable difference in some people as  they leave.

“When people leave, they always say, ‘Thank you,’ usually followed by, ‘Now I’m ready,’ ” she said. “I don’t know what they are ready for, but they feel they are ready for what’s next.

“When you do something in community, you see you are with others,” she added. “The more you learn about people, you learn you are not alone.”

Donations of wool and fleece scarves, hats and socks for the Interfaith Winter Rotating Shelter will be collected at the service.

— Reach Kim Orendor at [email protected]

Kim Orendor

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