I just returned from assisting Erena Bramos in the Sacred Dimensions program at Sevenoaks, and we shared the weekend with the Pathwork Transformation Program students.
As is traditional in December, the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork Community takes time out of their weekend to celebrate the various holidays that commemorate the birth of the light at this time of year. Christmas, Chanukah, Winter Solstice.
Far from the hustle bustle of the commercial chaos, the warmth, stillness, hope, and joyful celebration at Sevenoaks felt like something from times gone by.
We shared a delicious holiday meal on Saturday evening followed by a ceremony walking a star labyrinth amidst the darkness of Lighthouse Sanctuary. We then gathered around and Darlene Rollins led us in her own hymns written for the season. Afterwards we enjoyed Christmas caroling and fellowship. Sunday was capped off with the arrival of a major snowstorm that kept several students overnight at Sevenoaks, and many others holed up in hotels in the area.
A sacred spiritual family gathered together with a common longing, to follow the call to traverse the darkness on the way to the light — on the journey to God.
Memories etched in our hearts that will return to gift us for years to come.
The weekend inspired me to revisit my own favorite memories of sharing the Holidays at Sevenoaks, and to connect with a couple others and hear some of the memories that are near and dear to them. I share them with you here:
In 2003, as a year one PTP student, I remember my first Holiday at Sevenoaks. We shared a ritual in Lighthouse Sanctuary Saturday evening where each of the holidays were honored. I remember standing in a large circle in the dark around the candlelit altar, each of us holding a tea light wrapped in aluminum foil, softly illuminating our faces as we dropped into the joy and reverence of the moment. We had lit our candles and offered prayers for the world. I could feel the promise of transformation that would ripple out to benefit others in ways we might never know. The memory of that promise, that hope, and the glow of those in our Pathwork community circled around the altar will always remain with me. I felt it again this year in the Holiday gathering, and I saw that glow in the eyes of TP5 as they led the labyrinth ceremony.I felt the full circle of tradition being passed down, shared, and re-visioned. The promise of transformation in service of a better world lives on. ~ Beth Hedquist
I love the winter solstice and that which it symbolizes: going into darkness followed by gradually moving into the light. At SevenOaks, the winter solstice can be a magical time. As a Transformation Program (TP) student, I’ve experienced this magic. In my first year of TP we did a guided meditation / process where we walked outside in the dark and cold forming a procession over to the lighthouse building. When we got to lighthouse, we removed our coats and left them behind as a symbol of something we wanted to let go of.
This is an awesome memory for me. During the procession in the darkness, I was feeling a little afraid and I asked Jesus to walk with me in the form of a gospel song that popped into my head. After singing this song in my head, I felt the presence of Christ walking beside me. It was real and it was magical!
I left behind one of my defenses with the symbol of my coat which was no longer needed in the warmth and light of lighthouse. This experience was a major step in my TP journey that I will always remember and cherish. ~ Theresa Halloran
After the 2016 presidential election, a friend called, in despair, to ask, “What is Sevenoaks going to do now?” He named his need to remember that the darkness is not the end of the story. We had just enough time to offer a Winter Solstice Ceremony, open to anyone at no charge, to help folks re-ground in the earth, in the trustworthy cycles of life, to remember the wisdom of our ancestors who have endured many dark nights. 75 people showed up. We welcomed two young people, including one Native American, who had camped for many months at Standing Rock, joining the Sioux in their valiant fight against the polluting pipeline. We had a variety of uplifting spiritual workshops. We walked in silence to the Medicine Wheel at Sevenoaks and honored the birth of the light during the longest, darkest night. We returned just as the sun was setting behind Center Building. Then we shared a wonderful evening pot-luck feast, and an outdoor fire circle. The sense of a community that would bond together and stand together against adversity, grounded in love of Spirit, deepened in all of us that night. ~ Susan Thesenga
Do you have a favorite memory of the Holidays at Sevenoaks? Perhaps you have a memory of shared Holidays with Pathworkers in different parts of the world? I’d love it if you would share your memory in the comments below!