I’ve been sick this week, which means I’ve had a lot of downtime to read. In my reading, I came across an interesting article about mistletoe.
I learned that in Norse mythology, Frigg, the goddess of love, had a son named Baldur, who was killed with an arrow. Frigg wept over her son, and her tears landed on the arrow, becoming the pearlescent berries on the mistletoe plant.
In some versions of the myth, she used the healing properties of mistletoe to heal Baldur’s wound, and brought him back to life. Then she declared that mistletoe would never again be used as a weapon; it would only be used as a symbol of healing and peace. In her joy, she offered a kiss of peace to anyone who stepped under a mistletoe bough.
I’ve thought a lot about mistletoe the past few days. It was especially poignant as we marked the beginning of Advent yesterday.
There’s deep meaning in mistletoe. The tears of a grieving mother who lost her son to violence became a symbol of peace and love.
Mistletoe has remained transformed to this day, evidenced by the fact that when we look at mistletoe now, we don’t think of a weapon; we think of love. When we look at mistletoe now, we don’t run away in fear; we open our arms to embrace.
Mistletoe is reminder that the brokenness of the world that has been doesn’t have to always be.
We can transform swords to plowshares, violence to peace, anger to understanding. We can lay down weapons, tear down walls, surrender grudges and forgive grievances. We can take the resources we used to use to get our own way and use those same resources to heal the world instead.
This Advent, ’tis the season to shed tears over the brokenness we see in the world, like Frigg weeping over her wounded son.
‘Tis the season to take action, to transform our tears into tangible symbols and redemptive acts of forgiveness and peace.
And ’tis the season to be filled with joy, as Love brings the world back to life.