The Christians and the Pagans: “Sending Hope for Peace on Earth”
“Daily the world grows smaller, leaving understanding the only place where peace can find a home… For understanding brings respect, and respect prepares the way for a higher capacity, which is love.”
–Huston Smith, The World’s Religions
“I think magic’s in the learning.”
– Dar Williams, “The Christians and the Pagans” (song lyrics).
One of my all time favorite songs is Dar Williams’ “The Christians and the Pagans.” I love the lyrics where Jane and Amber, Pagans, visit Jane’s aunt and uncle, who are Christians, on Christmas Eve. They gather for a meal, hold hands, say prayers, and send hope for peace on earth “to all their Gods and Goddesses.”
In the song, Jane explains that Christmas is like Solstice, and she says, “[W]e love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share. And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere.” During the family festivities, the Christians and the Pagans find “faith and common ground the best that they are able.”
A great resource for learning about worship in the Goddess tradition is Starhawk’s book, “The Spiral Dance.” As she says, “We need images that move us beyond language, law, and custom; that hurl us beyond the boundaries of our lives to that space between the worlds, where we can see clear.” Similar to many indigenous beliefs, the Goddess tradition embraces the idea of returning to the circle. Starhawk explains, “The circle is the ecological circle, the circle of the interdependence of all living organisms. Civilization must return to harmony with nature. The circle is also the circle of community.” The circle likewise includes the Self, which encompasses the inner journey and process of self-healing and self-exploration.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful gift this holiday season to invite someone to a meal or celebration—only with the intention of wanting to better understand that person’s religious or spiritual practices? Or maybe you could share your beliefs with someone outside your traditional religious or spiritual group by inviting a friend (or relative) to attend a Winter Solstice celebration, Hanukah ceremony, Kwanzaa feast, Christmas Eve service, Buddhist meditation gathering, Hopi & Zuni Soyala Festival, and so on. Perhaps, we can learn from one another how to pray, sing, dance, chant, and celebrate, together.
As bell hooks (author) has so aptly said, “I want there to be a place in the world where people can engage in one another’s differences in a way that is redemptive, full of hope and possibility.” Or, as I recently saw spray painted on a wall, “We have more in common than our differences.”
In joy & gratitude,
Diana J. Ensign