Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The edges between the seasons are never clean or straight or even easy to find. It's officially fall for two more weeks, but little in the weather feels like anything but winter. All that makes fall a time of reflection and celebration of harvest and abundance has been replaced by bare branches and cold hard rain. In the same way spring will arrive on its own time, not driven by the calendar, but an early arrival of spring is so much more welcome than early winter.
I resist winter, both as a season and as a natural part of a life's process. I can't go barefoot or feel the kiss of warm air on my arms and face. Blessings are simpler and require more attention to find. Beauty hides in shadows. Light comes sideways and for such short bursts, if it can even break through the thick weight of wet gray wool, that it never feels like quite enough.
I resist the dormancy brought on by cold and dark. I don't want to rest and wait. I want to grow and soar. I'm tempted by the sweet escape of hibernation, the turning inward and avoidance of winter's stark lessons. But, I'm not bear. Only human. And no cave will protect me from the rhythms of my own life.
So I bundle up, follow Toby's excitement into the forest, and face the cold. On our walks I notice buds on trees and bushes. The minute leaves fall, buds appear. Fat, juicy, tightly packed buds. It doesn't seem possible that these tiny eggs of leaves could survive the harsh rigors of winter, but they do. And they serve to remind me of just how entwined life and death are.
It helps me to accept the dormant darkness, to surrender to it, knowing the potential for whatever comes next grows out of sight. It helps me to see that even as one thing dies, new life is already finding its way to the light - waiting for the time and conditions that will allow it the best possible chance of thriving into the full expression of its being.
As I study the buds it's also impossible to believe that death - even as the closing of a door - is a punishment. New life, unseen possibilities and gifts, cannot happen without the passing of old.
The red oak that stands strong and visible from my window does not release its dead rust leaves until spring. It clings to the old until compelled to let go by sap rising from its roots and sun calling from above. And even then I can find buds at the very tips of branches, promising new life to be born from cold dormancy. So even stubborn holding on cannot stand against the cycles of the seasons.