All afternoon the tree shadows, accelerating, lengthened till sunset shot them black into infinity: next morning darkness returned from the other infinity and the shadows caught ground and through the morning, slowing, hardened into noon. - "Recovery" by A.R. Ammons
Winter is the frozen lull, a time of suspended animation and stillness, a time when the sun flashes briefly from east to west, “a spark hung thin between the dark and dark” (John Updike).
Yet somewhere in the silent darkness, under the snow and frozen earth, there are bulbs and seeds waiting to sprout. Beneath frozen ponds, under leaves and inside the stems of plants, frogs and insects succumb to the frost and wait for the thaw, while other creatures slow down… slow, slow, slow… slowly slumbering in their winter dens.
Winter… a time of waiting and a time for traveling in dreams that grow large as the nights are long.
Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse. Fireworks cracking the silence of the forest at midnight. Goodbye to one decade that held so much change, and hello to whatever comes next. The New Year started with a cosmic and literal bang.
This morning we awoke to stillness after an overnight snowfall, the eclipse and pyrotechnics long over. The sky was a serene wash of pearl-grey, the trees were laden with damp powder and the forest creatures were burrowed deep in their under-tree nests and rock dens. And right now, the only sounds I hear are the chirping and calls of the birds that come to feast at our feeder: warblers, sparrows, finches, bluejays and our resident cardinal couple. All is well.
Last January 1, I set my intentions for the year by choosing two defining words. I wrote: “First, I want to learn to Listen more deeply and fully, both to my inner voice and to the unspoken words of others. I want to turn off the static that surrounds me and tune into the messages that come in silence. Then I want to Reach – reach within, reach out, reach for, reach above, reach below, reach beyond the limits I have intentionally and unintentionally set for myself. Listen ~ Reach... my mantra for 2009. It makes me feel that anything is possible.” Good words, good intentions… and I do feel that I’ve held true to them throughout the course of this very challenging year. Sometimes what I learned while listening was tough to take in and sometimes the reaching stretched me thin, but all in all… it’s been a worthwhile and enlightening journey.
This year, my intention is to continue to listen and to reach, using what I learn to bring myself closer and closer to real integrity. I’m talking about stepping fully into the process of being authentically myself in all parts in my life. I know what it looks like, but what it means in practice is something I will have to discover as the year unfolds.
So, in addition to listening and reaching, 2010 will be all about mindful balance. I am sometimes impatient for change, and that impatience often leads me to feelings of discouragement. That’s a path I want to avoid this year. It has too many ruts to trap my spirit and low hanging branches to snag my resolve. Instead, I want to follow the higher path, always mindful that “a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step” (Lao Tzu). Big changes often come through evolution.
Mindful Balance… my mantra for 2010. It makes me feel that anything is possible.
What word would you choose?