“Harvest Moon,” by George Inness
Here we are in the land of real winter.
Four p.m. and the sun is setting over my field of dried Goldenrod. The plant kingdom outside my window is playing the Madrigal of “darkness into light.” Having read the darkening days, the plants have surrendered into the season, dropping down into the underworld to rest and recover after three busy Quarters of generativity. I have watched green turn to brown, leaf into root, the spirit of each moving out of the light, away from the touch of cold. To the square cell folk, darkness means relief for a while, of the burden of “growing and expanding.” Yes, green things are dying all around us. December in the north end of the Northern Hemisphere is all about dying back, dying into the whole.
“In nature, darkness is neither good nor bad but simply a neutral condition in which things rest, take root and grow.”
Thom Cavalli, author of Alchemical Psychology
It would seem such a tragic loss, but we know in our bones that the light will come again. I wonder as I watch, “What did we as humans loose when we forgot how to sit in the dark?”
Everything that dies “out there” isn’t abandoned or lost. It is cheerfully chewed on, mopped up, and fully consumed by the hungry creatures of the single cell set. When the light comes back, when the air is warm, when last years achievements have sunk deep into the mud, new growth will appear. We have exempted ourselves from this process. We have no imperative to stay close and warm and dream in the dark. This “quiet time” is healing time. Time and space allows last years hurts to fall away. Was there an ill-conceived branch or a vole-decimated root? No worries! Dream a new dream. All will be used. Ever see a plant landfill?
What if we had this much resolve to utilize our own emotional flotsam? What if we were positive that after a quiet dark time of reflection, our painful emotional escapades would feed our present life with the great vitality of a rich fertilizer? The key here is to know in our bones that the light will come again.
Could it be that healing hurt and tragedy, allowing joy to regenerate us, requires time and the acceptance? If we want to fertilize our psyche with the richness of the experience we call “life,” then we need to acknowledge a time called Winter. We require seasons to process the growing and the healing. My intention for a full lived life would look like this:
“I have used all my tools at least once, I have been on both sides of almost all the major relationship quandaries and have reached the end of my life holding lots of love and not much else.”
I think a bit of naptime might be good for our culture. An improvement certainly over the frazzled, out of sorts, 24 hour a day tantrum that is our Americonsumer Christmas. Never met a 2 year old who didn’t feel so much better after a nap.
So here we find ourselves knocking at the Solstice door once again. Not so much dark as…quiet presence in stasis. My “well lived life” scenario in the dark times of the year might be:
“I will work a shorter day, sleep more, sit by a fire and allow the rhythms of the season to rock my psyche into balance until the light comes back.”
All made possible because…
We know in our bones that the light will come again.
We all crave alignment to something more ancient than our own most recent manifestation. Nature is beyond the teacher, nature is how it works. Is there a time when we will cease to need the dark in order to describe the light?
That’s a question for the spring!
Wishing everyone a blessed return of Light in whatever form you find most beautiful.
T.F. Cavalli, Alchemical psychology, Old Recipes for Living in a New World, (New York: Penguin/Putnam, 2002)
George Innes (May 1, 1825 – August 3, 1894) was an influential American landscape painter. His work was influenced, in turn, by that of the old masters, the Hudson River school, the Barbizon school, and, finally, by the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg, whose spiritualism found vivid expression in the work of Inness’ maturity. Often called “the father of American landscape painting,” Inness is best known for these mature works that not only exemplified the Tonalistmovement but also displayed an original and uniquely American style.
“Harvest Moon,” by George Inness, oil on canvas, 30 by 44 ½ inches, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., bequest of Mabel Stevens Smithers, The Frances Sydney Smithers Memorial, 1891
“Home at Montclair,” allpaintings.org