Last Wednesday, we celebrated the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. For many, this engenders a mix of excitement and dread as we begin our descent into winter. Every year, at this time, I don my cheerleading garb and head to the field to promote the virtues of winter.
It is natural for us to fear the darkness. Clarity can feel more elusive and we feel more vulnerable in the dark. Life is harder – though not nearly as hard as it was for our ancestors, who did not enjoy central heating, and whose winter hunting grounds did not include a Baker’s or Hy-Vee.
Yes, life is more of a challenge in the darkness and cold. However, it offers us a richness that can only be found by turning our attention inward and tending to our spirit and community for survival, just as our ancestors did.
As the days grow shorter on our trajectory toward the Winter Solstice, we must challenge ourselves to remember our natural rhythms and reclaim those that have not yet been obliterated by our modern 24/7 lives.
Fall is a time of dormancy, as we move toward the deep rest of winter. This is admittedly hard to feel in our bodies when our only connection to fall and winter is one of dread.
However, dormancy is a necessary stage in the process of generativity. If the ground is left to fallow after a growing cycle, depleted nutrients are restored and the land can recover. The next growing season will benefit from a period of restoration.
Our modern sensibilities tend to pathologize this period of rest, failing to see the restorative and necessary nature of not constantly producing yield. It is another element of our culture that is predicated on sustaining an economic model, rather than caring for the needs of the populace.
I wonder if perhaps we are now listening in a different way to what our spirits need?
Many people have found the pandemic provides us with opportunity to disrupt our regular externally-driven cycles in order to listen to our own internal rhythms, as well as to those of nature.
Perhaps, if we are still working from home, we may better understand the tempo of fall and winter? Pacing ourselves according to the light and the opportunities to “hunker down” to a period of rest and self-reflection.
How might we benefit from understanding fall, with its crisp chill to the air and colorful display of foliage, as a preparation for the coming winter? Even in modern day, we need this transition between the external activity of the summer to make sure that the stores are full and can support us as we turn our attention inward in the contemplative silence of the winter.
What preparations do you need to make?
Blessings on your journey,