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Dec 30
Community Articles, Featured Stories
First Rays of Dawn

Lighting Our Way: The Celebration of Children’s Day in Boulder

By Emily Takahashi

winter creekSnow, glorious snow! Winter does not seem fully realized until we have been housebound by our first deep snow. Snow is the great equalizer—everything is made beautiful when it has been laced by ice crystals, pure and white.

Boulder’s first deep snowfall this week helped prepare the mood for our winter solstice celebration last Sunday night. We cozy our way toward some deeper, inner warmth as the outside world turns colder and darker. We have been on this journey since the warm, sunlit days of midsummer, and in these last days we feel a deeply compelling magnetism—something is coming. By December 20, we have arrived at the “midnight” of the year, when darkness has achieved its zenith and light has completed its retreat. Derived from the Latin word sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) the winter solstice is celebrated in Shambhala as Children’s Day.

prairie sunrise, photo by S.LiptonWhy do we celebrate our children at this point of ultimate darkness? Because when we pass through the winter solstice we participate in the sacred rite of the completion of death and the return of life. Our children are the first rays of dawn; they are seeds which will become the future flowers of our world.



Photo courtesy of Mary Philips

Photo courtesy of Mary Philips

In the Christian calendar these anticipatory days of winter are known as Advent. Candles are lit and tiny windows are opened on colorful calendars to reveal a surprise picture or a piece of chocolate, in anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child on Dec. 25. In the Jewish faith the lighting of the eight menorah candles is the most significant part of the celebration of Hanukkah. Children in Shambhala join with these ancestral rituals of “bringing back the light” by entering the shrine room bearing candles as the late afternoon light wanes and night begins to fall. There they receive a treat from the King and Queen of Shambhala, who introduce the children to both the dignity and playfulness of being a good human being. As we share stories of Gesar and songs of love and bravery with our youngest community members, we know that our culture of basic goodness lives on, and that the light of the Great Eastern Sun is returning to the earth.

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