Friday, December 22, 2006

Winter Solstice - The Turning Point

This is the first full day of winter. The facts have long been metaphors: This is the shortest day, the longest night. Now the days will get longer, the nights shorter -- we may not be able to notice for a couple of weeks. When the days, or your life, becomes the darkest, you can't tell immediately that the change has happened, but the light is returning. The philosophers, the thinkers, the observers, the ancients saw this ... perhaps a thousand years before Lao Tzu wrote the TAO TE CHING the elders had observed that the changes come regularly, if with subtle differences from year to year.

How wonderful that way back in ancient times, the times of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the makers of Stone Henge, the first Taoists, the Hopewell people, many others, human life had evolved enough that a class of people had the leisure to look at the heavens and around at the earth and actually SEE what was happning. That the stars seemed to move around the sky in a pattern, that seasons came predictably, that solstices came twice a year and equinoxes came between them. What power these observers must have had when they could warm that the moon or sun would disappear but then return. How wonderful to reassure the clan that even when it was dark and cold, spring would come, the animals and birds would return, food would grow, sun would caress goosebumps and turn arms tan.

In terms of how long we've been a separate species this knowledge if very new. The comfort it gives us remains remarkable, barely understood, wondrous. Even today, when we think we're educated and sophisticated, we observe the darkening days with our various festivals of light. Our cities are decked in sparking lights. It gives us a visceral thrill to look at the lights in the cities and in our homes, possibly blinking on the tree set up in the living room. Possibly we will never cease reacting t to other winter solstice with a celebration of light, with feasts and with honoring the people we care about with gifts to tell them they are precious to us. Whatever darkness has entered our lives of late, we will reach a nadir, and we will begin to heal, the days will become longer and lighter.

No need to think about your religion or my religion or the unimportance of religion ... the fact of the winter solstice is also a metaphor that is more than metaphor because it is a deeply meaningful fact of life as we know it and it has been since those ancients watched the sky and used whatever counting devices they had learned and prove. Yes, the change has occurred.
All, as the Taoists said, is change. The natural world in which we live is always dynamic, never static, understand the laws that govern that change and you will understand all. Whatever governs those changes -- the laws of nature -- also govern your life. Learn those law and live in harmony with them and you will have become a seer -- to have such knowledge brings deep satisfaction ... the modern concept of "happiness" may follow, but it is such a new concept, we don't yet know how to define it.

No comments :