It went past me so quickly, I almost did not catch it. It was a throw - away phrase.
I was reading about the history of international Christmas caroling (don't ask - I am a geek) and a simple sentence was tucked in amongst all the lighthearted facts about caroling in Greece...
I take a little liberty as I quote the article:
... The candle lighter is the leader of the caroling group... All day he leads the caroling group throughout the city... These carolers have far more consideration for the feelings of their fellow - creatures than English carolers because the candle lighter is always sent on ahead to inquire of the household that they propose to visit if there is mourning in the house...
My reading halted there. This seemed altogether amazing. Could it be that there was, at one moment, a culture that enjoyed the spirit of Christmas - and yet, all the while - demonstrated understanding that the mourning people in their midst needed sensitivity?
I am uncertain as to why or how these Greek people had an unusual level of thoughtfulness for the grieving. Should anyone reading this know the answer, I would love you to comment and tell me.
Those of us that have been grieving over numerous holidays always feel such pressure to conform. Not to ruin everyone's good time. At the very least, not to openly grieve. Yet, here I encountered a hint about a culture that bent low to care for those in grief.
When we are grieving everything burns more hotly, things sound harsher, all of our senses are raw and easily jangled. If you are grieving, know that it might seem like you lost a layer of epidermis.
We no longer have shared cultural responses to death like our ancestors did. But we still need code language to quickly communicate that we need to have our grief taken into consideration. I and many others are trying to begin to build this culture. It starts with being able to express your authentic self, with love, to those in your sphere. When you need to have your feelings taken into consideration over the hype of the holidays, recall that there have been times in human history when the feelings of mourners were taken into consideration, and rest in that knowledge that we are not asking for something that is uncalled for.
I wish you light and life this holiday season.