Holly and Mistletoe

Bill and Diana Roche

Diana and I will often discuss the Sabian symbol for the day. She does her "official" interpretation of the day's symbol while I make a mental note of it. Whenever I find an example of the daily symbol working out in my day in a significant way, I write it up as my own record of symbol correspondences. What follows is just such a situation. First is Diana's interpretation followed by my experience of it.

GEMINI 4: Holly and mistletoe. Keyword: RITUALIZATION

THEME: The Magic of Anticipation. This symbol speaks to the role that preparation plays in stimulating a change of mood or attitude and in calling forth a heightened anticipation of the joy to be found in the special celebrations of every culture. The image of holly and mistletoe stresses the traditions of Christmas and the inspirational effect of decorating or stage setting. The holly, with its green leaves and red berries, reflects a passion for new life and fresh beginnings. The sprigs of mistletoe symbolize romance and the immortal values that society preserves in its rituals. The emphasis here is on the special opportunities for spiritual self-renewal and time to share with friends and family. Positive: At its highest, this symbol represents a special talent for adding plussage to the lives of others by transforming even the most ordinary events into delightful occasions. Negative: Loss of touch with meaning and significance through an overconcern with details.

TODAY: The accent is on celebration. You may feel especially inspired as you look forward to some traditional gathering of friends or family.

May 24, 1996: Sister Angelina called: "Bill, I hate to ask this of you, but I am stuck. We need someone to drive three of the sisters to Philadelphia to the social services office at 18th and Vine on Friday and I cannot find anyone available. Do you think you could do it?" It was now Wednesday and Friday looked free so I said that I would be glad to take them down. We no sooner hung up than a strange thing happened. I said to myself: "I have to get the car washed." This was not strange in itself because the car was dirty. The strange part was that this was just what my father and uncle used to say when they were asked to drive the sisters somewhere — over fifty years ago! It was an unwritten rule: if you have to drive the sisters, you make sure that the car is clean and tidy. Behind this attitude was a sense of respect, even awe, that you had for people of the cloth "in the old days." Car washing was a ritual on these occasions.

Amidst the chores of the next day and a half were the little concerns: what is the street address of the building? What floor were they on? I'll call Melissa (the person the sisters were to see) and get directions. Is there enough gas in the car? These little concerns were — somehow — pleasant and enjoyable.

Friday morning I arrived at the monastery door. Many of these sisters have physical disabilities so care has to be taken when it comes to transporting them somewhere. These particular sisters are contemplatives and rarely leave their monastery. Added to that, these three are new to the United States. If they can get the proper permissions, they will remain here. This was the reason for the trip to Philadelphia--to iron out these details. So, I would be the tour director also. "No Sister, this town of Wayne, Pennsylvania was not named after John Wayne. It was named after General Anthony Wayne who helped us during the Revolutionary War." "No Sister, Valley Forge is not associated with the Civil War but with the Revolutionary War. The difference between those two wars is."

Helping sometimes has its immediate rewards; I was allowed to park in a disabled spot right next to the door. With their business over I suggested that we walk across the parking lot to visit the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the Archdiocesan Basilica. By some magic of the moment (and practical foresight) I pulled a camera out of my jacket pocket. "Oh, take my picture so I can send it home to my mother in France," was the first response to the magic. Twelve frames later the roll was finished and I had enough pictures for all the mothers in France, Ireland and Philippines.

How could you go to Philadelphia — the home of the soft pretzel — and not have one? I spotted a street vendor at 20th and the Parkway, then (more magic) found a parking spot no more than twenty feet away. I left the air conditioner running and told them I would be right back. I returned with four soft pretzels and four ice teas. "Oh, you shouldn't have gone to all this trouble." "Aren't we having our day of fun?" "What is a pretzel?" "Spell it." I brought the mustard back on a paper with a coffee stirrer because I didn't know who did or did not like mustard on her p-r-e-t-z-e-l.

Because Valley Forge Park is not too far out of the way, I took a "shortcut" through the park. The huts, the cannon, the memorial arch and bronze George on his bronze horse completed the "trip to Philadelphia."

So, I lived the holly and mistletoe Sabian Symbol very effectively on this May day. I got into the mood of my fifty-year-old childhood-instilled ritual and thoroughly enjoyed the enjoyment of others. Oh, by the way, the sisters have to go back to Philadelphia next year. They wanted to know if I would be available to take them.

Copyright © 1998 by William T. Roche and Diana E. Roche
All Rights Reserved