If you’ve lived nearly anywhere in the United States the last few weeks, you may have been reevaluating your relationship with winter. The entire country has been plunged into below average temperatures due to shifting weather patterns. I just recently flew out of the Nashville airport in unusual blizzard conditions. That’s right, Nashville, Tennessee was getting a crash course in de-icing a plane. (groan, if you must)
In some ways, extreme weather seems further evidence of our desired dominion over nature. We insist on remaining undeterred in our plans for travel, business, or normal activity, whatever the weather brings. Aided by technology, we see that even the childhood magic of the snow day is under threat, moving us toward continued productivity without respite.
This is a very modern and capitalistic way of thinking. We feel we must keep the economic wheel turning with as few disruptions as possible.
But perhaps we’re missing the point. The gift of winter historically has been an invitation to slow down, to turn inward and use the fallow time to prepare for the hard work ahead in the coming spring. Now, with the advent of electricity and HVAC systems, we can be productive 365 days a year. Never mind rising and retiring with the sun. Not to worry if the wind chill is -35 degrees or the heat index reaches 110. Press on.
Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
Yes, productivity is important. But so is rest. So is unstructured time and the occasional disruption to regularly scheduled activity. We need the quiet, the dark, the seemingly non-generative time to be efficient when the time for hard work returns.
Perhaps the next bitterly cold day might serve as reminder of our more animal nature, perhaps we will hibernate, or build pillow forts with the kids, rather than give into our mechanistic, consumer leanings.
Blessings on your journey,
This month we celebrate the season of light. Spiritual traditions all over the globe welcome back the light as we move from the longest night of the year toward the growing warmth and illumination of Spring.
Whether it’s the rededication of the temple, the birth of the Savior, or the return of daylight in celebration of Yule, there are festivals of light. We light the candles for Kwanzaa, we dance at Winter Solstice bonfires, we wear Swedish candle crowns on St. Lucia Day, and light the tree of fire represented by the Menorah – all celebrations honoring the importance of light. For Buddhists, December 8th is a celebration of Bodhi Day, the day that the Buddha attained enLIGHTenment.
For our ancestors, celebrating the light has always been a matter of survival.
This year let’s allow ourselves to truly be enlightened. Let the light shine into all the nooks and crannies where shadows of hatred and judgement must be dispelled. May those dark, haunted spaces where we hurt one another and act out of self-righteous conviction, rather than compassion and understanding, be flooded with the oncoming light.
This too is a matter of survival.
This season may you and your loved ones be blessed with the light of wisdom, patience, and peace.
Blessings on your journey,
Louisa has always enjoyed writing and is thrilled that she now has a way to share her musings with a larger community of like-minded seekers. Her writing is often an extension and exploration of the struggles she faces in integrating her own spirituality, scholarly study, life experience, and nuggets of brilliance from her teachers in the hopes that it might alchemically transform itself into something approximating wisdom.