Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

This morning, outside of my apartment.
12:04 pm today marks the occurence of winter solstice for 2008. This passage is recognized the world over and holds special meaning for many, many cultures. Here in the United States, the traditional winter solstice takes a backseat to Christmas. For me, Christmas has always been a family holiday. Since this will be the first time ever I won't be home on December 25, Christmas just hasn't had the same spark as it previously did. I'm not buying one single present or sending out any cards. The remaining hold out will be a re-creation of my family's annual Seafood Fondue Fest.
There are many places in America, where it would be impossible to 'avoid' Christmas. Western Washington isn't one of those places. In fact, coming from Spokane, Seattle seems downright godless. I've seen a statistic that said only 4% of Seattleites are Evangelical Christians. That doesn't surprise me at all. According to the US Census, Seattle is also the most educated city in the nation (SF is #2). For a long time, I thought that was collalory. There are some studies that have made that conclusion. To my Christian friends who read this blog, please don't overthink that. As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I think the correlation is incidental, not causal.
One reason for the "godless in seattle" prevalence is that education makes you skeptical (or said differently, a critical thinker). And I would say Seattle is very skeptical (and pessimistic but let's blame that on the weather). We also suffer from group-think (which seems antithetical to critical thinking, but if nothing else, we're inconsistenly confusing here!). I think that high tech industries and great colleges (UW), have attracted/created a lot of educated folks. As to why we don't have too many churches? I think it's historical. The gold rush brought a lot of rugged pioneers to Seattle who were escaping something or trying to find something new. Religion just never got a foothold here (or in most Western states for that matter).
Group Health on 15th.

Surprising to many of my Seattle kin, I was a real big church-goer during high school. In fact, I got baptised at age 18. Like a lot of gay people, the older I got, the more it became apparent I just didn't fit in with traditional church.. There's still a lot to love about Christianity (in an abstract form for me personally). Love your neighbor. That's one I don't do enough. I hope in 2009, I'll do a better job of not letting my politics divide me from those that might believe differently. But I'll be honest, it's been especially hard this year. Because I live in a city with the 2nd most population of gays and because I live in a city where the vast majority are not church-going, being gay has simply never ever not even once been an issue in the 12 years I've been here. Until this year. And I don't like that how that feels. It's been baffling and surprising and has put me at odds with some folks I really love and care about. I want to put it bed before 2009 rolls around. I know that time is on my side. Statistics show that each successive generation will be as shocked as I am that being gay was ever an issue.
Anyway, I said this post was about winter solstice. And it is, at least metaphorically. The most common element from winter solstice celebrations is the concept of the rebirth of light. And that's my point. It can be a big, dark world at times. And the only thing I've found that cures that is the light shining in all of us. And I'm not kidding around here, I'm not being cliche -- I really believe this. I promise all my friends and fellow humans that this year, I'm going to keep on shining. And I really need you to do the same.

Last night, at Smith.


colleen said...

Great post. Keep have ALWAYS been such an example of love and goodness and light. In fact, you are one of the 'sparkliest' people I have ever come across in my life.
Have a blessed Christmas friend!
love, c

Joey Veltkamp said...

You have NO IDEA how reciprocal that is. I've always been amazed by your spirit. If we lived in the in same city, we'd drive our respective partners nuts with all of our laughing and inside jokes.

Thanks honey. I love you.

Kate Hailey said...

i love the first image, the view from outside your apartment, it has an old time feel to it, it makes me smile and wonder... thanks for sharing! ~ Kate