The Vernal Equinox is on its way! In the mountainous regions of the western U.S., it occurs this Monday at precisely 11: 14 pm. At that moment, the sun pauses directly above the Earth’s equator before continuing on its northward journey.
Of course, it doesn’t pause at all, and it is not the Sun but the Earth that has moved into this position, but let’s not quibble. And contrary to what the term equinox implies (Latin for “equal nights”), the days and nights are not, in fact, truly equal on this date, even at the equator. But let’s not quibble here either. We’ve nearly made it through another winter. Spring is upon us. Yippee!
Looking at online images of this grand dance~~Earth around Sun as both sashay across heaven’s ballroom~~my mind feels a gravitational pull of its own to all the great cycles of our Earthly existence.
Spring blooms into summer, as autumn gives way to winter. Morning becomes noonday becomes dusk becomes the deep darkness of midnight. A human life cycles from birth to the transition that is death. Everywhere we look, we see examples of the interplay of light and dark, growth and decay, this and that.
What a delightful and instructive word~~interplay, “the play between” the opposites that create our world. How much easier our lives would be if we could hold the tension between them lightly, even playfully. So many of us struggle so, fighting to hold on to what we want, pushing away what doesn’t please us. Where in nature do we witness such foolishness?
The squash plant that will grow in our gardens this summer accepts sunlight by day and the darkness of night. Its blossoms give way to butternuts that, when ripe, fall into our hands with only a gentle tug. She doesn’t fight to hang on to the fruit of her effort or begrudge us her seeds. She doesn’t seem to fear her leaves withering as sunlight grows weaker and temperatures drop.
While animals have freedom of movement and, therefore, a greater ability to choose their experience, there seems here, too, an acceptance of what is. Just watch cattle during a winter storm, backsides facing the biting wind as white stuff accumulates on toughened hide.
We humans, with our ability for conscious choice, have the greatest say in how we greet it. It’s not so impressive to “be spiritual”, loving and kind when all is moving as we’d like, though we need to remind ourselves even then to practice these virtues. No, it is when things are going exactly as we don’t want that we are tested.
The cycles we observe in sky and garden have corollaries in the ups and downs of our own lives. Relationships change. Good fortune blooms and may wither. Things shift from this to that, often in ways not to our liking.
Do we greet these developments with grace, using them to grow wisdom, or do we instead allow them to strengthen our unwholesome attributes? If we approach life playfully, holding tenderly both the light and dark, things will go much easier for us.
In a dream last week, I came across an interesting symbol. A multicolored vertical line separated nearly halfway down into two parts, looking much like a stick figure without arms or head. As I moved closer in my dream state, I realized that this was no abstract symbol. Instead, two rainbow~hued birds leaned into one another, neck and head entwined in a loving embrace.
The play of opposites is like that, a loving embrace that creates our world~~and us. May we greet it warmly, hold it playfully, allow it to surprise us into something new.
May you and your own brightly colored birds create an exquisite dance all your own. Dance your heart out. Dance it open.
For a bit more info on the Spring Equinox, including a short video and a stunning long exposure photograph from last year's vernal equinox, click here.