It's the eighth day of Christmas and my true love said to me relax, sit down, and have a cup of tea! So that's what I'm doing! I'm watching the newly fallen snow flurry past my window and I've got my warm cup of rosehips and hibiscus tea, my true English treasure just in time to share what I did last night- My Trek to Bethlehem.
My trek began at five o'clock. I departed with a troupe of merrymakers, my Christmas colours, and my carols to the land of Bala, Ontario in the heart of Muskoka. It was a wintery drive and from where I was sitting in the passenger seat it felt like I was molded into a snow globe. Some parts of the highway had not been plowed which definitely made it an eventful and courageous journey.
I was to sing at twenty after six and was met at the door by angels and prophets warning me to steer clear of the Roman soldiers! I was told that they were in a fowl mood that night. They said to make sure I had paid my taxes and here I was, I had just arrived both curious and confused, slightly frazzled, and just trying to find the piano I was supposed to be playing on in twenty or so minutes and hoping it wasn't in a fowl mood. After some mindful searching a kind angel pointed the way and I got myself settled for my first set.
Soon after playing I got ready to journey outside. I was prepared! I had my lime green propylene Long Johns, my snow pants, my down feather coat, hat, gloves, scarf and so on. I was ready to trek. I was ready for anything! So I joined into a group lead by the Prophet Matthew from the House of David. He lead us, might I say, completely in character cloaked in a beautiful garb along the torch lit village streets of Bala.
I had heard about the Trek before, but had never been able to make it out. It seemed like conflicting dates, life, and weather had always made it a challenge for my family. I'm thrilled that I could make it this year!
Matthew from the House of David lead us (his family) along Mary and Joseph's path to Bethlehem- Along the path were various homes and displays decorated and acted out in historical character and costume. We went past a live donkey, a live miniature horse, a market place full of spices and copper and salted fish, the Three Kings of the Orient, a choir of singing angels surrounded by lit clouds on a balcony. We walked amongst lepers and prophets, shepherds tending their sheep and an Innkeeper at his Inn. We had to pay our taxes to the tax collector and show our papers to the fowl Roman soldiers so we could pass through into the manger where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus calmly and quietly (maybe a little cold) waited for us beneath a shining star. It was enchanting-lovely- and was really inspiring in community spirit!
It was an incredible Christmas experience. I was profoundly amazed by how a group of around 100 or so local volunteers could put on such a beautiful event for twenty years and counting. We were taken to an Inn after the trek to have hot cocoa and baked treats. I had my cocoa quick and zipped back inside to sing some more. I had a great time and it really made me think of the meaning of Christmas and the meaning of community! I can't wait to some day bring my children to Trek in Bethlehem (Bala) what a gift that would be.
Wishing all my Christian friends a very Merry Christmas, to my Jewish friends a very Happy Hanukah, and to all my friends of other religions and beliefs a safe and happy season and if you're ever able to make it to the Bala Trek to Bethlehem no matter what belief- peace and love MAKE SURE YOU GO! You won't regret it.