Monday, December 22, 2008

Seasonal Musings

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Thereafter, daylight will increase in a steady progression through the frigid days of winter and the budding of spring.

I've always found this gift of lengthening days comforting, arriving just as we hunker down for winter's onslaught. It reassures me that when things seem bleakest, the tide has already begun to turn. Increasing light as winter's harshness intensifies is proof that nothing is static. The seeds of what is to come lie within the depths of what is.

This truth is most clearly articulated in the ancient Chinese symbol of yin yang, a simple image containing much wisdom.
A perfect circle, without beginning or end, is divided into segments, black and white. This reflects the idea that the whole, denoted by the circle, is composed of complementary forces. The fact that the division between the two is demarcated by a flowing line, rather than a rigidly straight one, suggests movement. One swirls into the other in an interplay that brings to mind partners on the dance floor, each mirroring the swaying motions of the other.

Yet a still subtler truth is articulated in the fact that each segment contains the germ of its opposite. Amid the fullest portion of darkness, a white seed abides, while a hint of black appears within the heart of light.

This circle, symbolizing life itself, holds everything within it. The image, however, highlights that which is seemingly contradictory, yet entwined: increasing light within the cold of winter, potential sorrow amid moments of joy, silver linings in the gray clouds that come our way.

To the degree that we are attached to one facet of life, one portion of what is now ours, our anxiety over its loss will loom large. To the extent, though, that we can expand our vision to include the enveloping circle and welcome the interplay of all that it contains, we will be soothed.

The yin yang symbol reminds us to hold all things~~pleasurable and painful~~with an open hand, accepting that they are ours on loan only. It also encourages us to keep an eye toward the change that will make an appearance before long.

Shifts and permutations can then be greeted as confirmation of the eternal dance in which we participate. From this perspective, we become more inclined to consciously, and perhaps even joyfully, add our own unique steps to the mix.

This week as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child~~light amid the darkness~~we might also reflect on that which lies within us and within our own lives, waiting to be born. As we greet the coming of Santa, we could welcome, too, the ultimate and perpetual Gift Bearer, by cultivating a receptive attitude toward whatever comes our way.

And as we begin to notice that it is not quite as dark when the alarm sounds each morning, we could remember the wisdom of words spoken centuries ago by the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus: “Nothing endures but change.”

Nothing, that is, but the circle that holds it all and the dance that is eternal.

May your gifts be many and your steps joyful!

Loanne Marie

2 comments:

Claire said...

This line really resonates with me: "It reassures me that when things seem bleakest, the tide has already begun to turn." Wow. What a wonder-filled outlook, and so true! It holds hope for me.
As I "grok" (a term from sci-fi Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" meaning to fully integrate on all levels) Heraclitus' viewpoint that "Nothing endures but change," I am more at peace moment to moment, for I know, as my father often said, This too shall pass.
Thank you for these insightful musings in celebration of the solstice. Peace.

Loanne Marie said...

And thank you for sharing yours! This, too~~whatever this is~~shall, indeed, pass. Sometimes I can't wait for that passing; often I find myself trying to grasp on to something whose vitality has moved away. Holding with an open hand is the mid~point, and the peace~giving point. Namaste, Claire!

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