Monday, November 4, 2013

into the dark

With the clocks recently turned back an hour and the darkness falling earlier and earlier, I find myself in unfamiliar territory.  Normally this transition feels a little sad to me - cold, dark, lonely, quiet.  But about a week ago, I found that I was actually looking forward to the changes this time of year brings.  In preparation for fully enjoying December, I've decided on my goal for that special month a little early:  Be quiet.  And ever since it popped into my head, I've felt ready to embrace the increased time spent indoors, the extra layers piled on for warmth, the afternoons standing at the stove working on a simmering pot of soup, the hours occupied with knitting needles and children's books and sweet requests to "Read it again please, Mama."  I'm ready for the darkness.  

I've mentioned here before that a couple years ago, my mom gave each of us a copy of her favorite book of meditations called Simple AbundanceToday I'd like to share the meditation from November 1.  If you're like me and normally have a tough time with the dark and cold of winter, I hope you'll find this helpful.  I know I did.

 Embracing the Ebb
by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Simple Abundance
A Daybook of Comfort and Joy

The season when to come, and when to go,
To sing, or cease to sing, we never know.
-Alexander Pope

There once was a mighty queen with a short fuse.  One autumn, as the year was beginning to ebb, the queen fell into a deep melancholy.  She could neither eat nor slumber, and tears of an unknown origin fell frequently, which infuriated her, triggering angry fits that made those around her quake in fear.

Each day the queen summoned a new adviser from her esteemed circle of sages to explain the cause of her baffling condition.  In they came and out they went:  the court physician, the stargazer, the psychic, the alchemist, the herbalist, the philosopher.  All were dismissed as charlatans for their inability to unravel the mystery of the royal black spell.  They counted themselves lucky to have only their illustrious careers shortened.

"Surely there must be one among you who knows the source of my suffering," the queen cried in despair.  But her pathetic wail was greeted only with awkward silence, for all were wary of her wrath.  Finally, the royal gardener was moved by compassion for the poor woman and slowly approached her throne.

"Come into the garden, Majesty, beyond the walls of your self-imprisonment, and I will disclose your dilemma."  The queen was so desperate, she did as she was bid.  When she went out to the garden for the first time in many weeks, she noticed that the bright, vivid colors of summer had faded and the garden seemed bare.  But it was not, she saw, wholly bereft of beauty, for it was regal in autumn's brilliant hues of crimson and gold.  The air was refreshingly cool and crisp, and the sky, pure blue.  "Speak, gardener," the queen ordered, "but choose your words carefully, for I seek the truth."

"Majesty, it is not your body or your mind that is ailing.  It is your soul that is in need of healing.  For while you are a mighty and powerful queen, you are not Divine.  You are suffering from a human condition that afflicts us all.  Earthly souls ebb and flow in sorrow and joy according to the seasons of emotion, just as the seasons of the natural world move through the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.  These are the days to be grateful for the harvest of the heart, however humble it might be, and to prepare for the coming of the year's closure.  Even now, the season of daylight diminishes and the time of darkness increases.  But the true Light is never extinguished in the natural world, and it is the same in your soul.  Embrace the ebb, my beloved queen, and do not fear the darkness.  For as night follows day, the Light will return and you will know contented hours once again.  Of this I am sure."

The unhappy queen considered this wisdom thoughtfully and asked the gardener how she possessed the secret knowledge of inner peace during the seasons of emotion.  The gardener led her to a brass sundial. It read:  

This too, shall pass.

As we slip into the month of November, with fading light and falling temperatures, I'm looking forward to turning inward in every sense of the word.  I hope you are, too.

If you can, take some time to enjoy November's sunsets. 

I think they make the early darkness a little easier to look forward to.  Wishing you joy and Light today, friends.

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