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Words + Photographs by J R Compton
Copyright 2002 by JR Compton - All Rights Reserved.

Symbolically praying a prayer for peace by tying a ribbon on the Peace Tree in the lobby was one fine way to edge into the spirit of this winter's SolstiCelebration.

 

Discovering old friends is another. Remember this
father and son from last year's celebration?

 

"Pink," I couldn't stop myself from saying aloud as I beheld these vivid members of the Winfrey Bells Morris Dancers practicing stomping backstage. "Not pink," they replied, insisting instead, "fuchsia."

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Old friend and one of my favorite musicians, Chad Evans greeted me with a big smile while setting up to be one half of the dance band - with fellow musician (and KERA DJ) Kim Corbitt - in the lobby

 

ClarySage - Shelly Nieburhr and Debbie Garner - sang sweet harmonies while the audience noisily filled the Cathedral. That's a crimson garbed pixie lighting candles in the background.

 

Horn player Freddie Jones waits quietly behind the New Moon Gate, a symbolic transition from the darkness of the shortest day and darkest night of winter to the coming bright of spring - perfect for dancing through.

 

A percussionist's preschooler waves wanly
just before the party proceeds.

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A little stretching gets our bodies
ready for the evening's festivities.

 

And a little meditation gets our eyes and minds ready, too.

 

The acoustics were a little too bright for a sustained gonging...

 

... but not at all bad for bowls that sing. Love that eerie sound resonating all around the crowded Cathedral of Hope.

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Poet Jeff Davis gets into the spirit of the words...

 

... and everybody all through the church joins
hands and chants a simple tune.

 

 We are a circle,
within a circle

With no beginning
and never ending

 

 

           

Emcee Amy Martin introduces the members
of Our Community in tonight's Celebration

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Story tellers Gene & Peggy Helmich-Richardson
stretch a tale about a Buried Moon.

 

Then, as Moonlady banged her
drum slowly, darkness descended.
 

 

  

Till it was so dark, without a spotlight, my camera could only see with infrared light. Here, members of Mosaic wait through the darkness to welcome us on the other side with their singing.

 

        

The Cathedral of Hope's regular preacher couldn't make it, so Gay Mallon Lustfield reminded us that doubt was part of the plan, and we should embrace the darkness.

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Slowly bringing us out of the darkness, Amy lit one candle at center stage, then as Gay Mallon Lustfield sang, the light spread ...

 

... candle to candle, light to light, fiery spark to bright....

 

... and brighter still ...

 


 

Till, like this Winter Solstice that marks
the low stopping of the sun's apparent arcs,
the darkness dips slowly,
growing toward the
glowing dawns of spring.

JR Compton

 

And the light returns.



Then, as suddenly as the light shone on us again, members of the Winfrey Bells Morris Dancers jingled a stomping dance to the tune of a lively squeeze box, then jangled away.

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While they changed costumes, Amy
led us in the traditional
howl into the light, and...

 

... the dancers come returned as a goofy herd of mournful cows - drudging their bovine way through the Abilene Bromley Longhorn Dance ...

 

... picking up verve along the way. When they finally exited, the crowd, by then thoroughly wowed, 'cheered' a bellowing longhorn moo in their honor.

 

Maaaah ommmm!! a boy child hollers for
Mom, who musta gone thataway.

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It fell over during this longest night, so two volunteers helped hold up the sun as the crowd wound through it and ...

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... the flanking moon gate. Like greeting the rising sun after long darkness, people came out the other side of the gates joyed and streaming light.

 

 

After all the excitement inside, the crowd gathered in the lobby for wonderful nibbles and visits from ...

 

Father Christmas, who had a happy little something for little boys and girls who have been good, or -- as Amy suggested, "good at being bad," and ...

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... Mr Gloom, whose ragged coat adults were urged to squeeze, letting our shadowy darknesses soak, so we'd be rid of them. But ya had to be quick about it; Boogeyman The Tim shot through the crowd like a blazing star on a cold, winter's night. He did not stop to pose for pictures along the way.

 

When I left, exhausted at just after ten, bigger kids were blowing bubbles, and louder, littler ones were running screaming around the pews inside the church and ...

 

 

... splattering light in the tinseled doorway.

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