March 6, 2011 § 2 Comments
This winter, I made a commitment to embrace darkness. It was my first winter after years in California, and I decided to hibernate inside myself this year. Since I moved to DC, it is clear to me that this is a place for me to do some work. Maybe a bit of cleaning out. There is something purifying about being brand new in an uncomfortable spot of earth. You learn quickly what works and what doesn’t. There is no room for posturing and lying to yourself gets very tiring. My hope for this winter was that I would be able to learn more of my truth. I wanted to learn what it is down there in my own darkness that scares me so and makes me run. Spin. Climb the walls everyday from 3 until 6 pm.
What I found was that it wasn’t quite so scary after all. And that it was scary all the time. What I am proud of is that I was sometimes able to sit with that darkness, that unfathomable abyss. I found my soul in there, humming away. I found rituals that calm and soothe. I found a gentle, yielding compassion down there, that I can snuggle into any time I remember. (But often, it’s the remembering that is hard). I found that I am a novice with intensity, that I feel things so deeply that I need measures of comfort, ways to breathe through the difficult spots.
I could go on and on. That is the way the darkness is. But after a while, if you steep too much, you can become bitter. The darkness itself becomes so interesting that it can be easy to get stuck there in the mire of it all, the brambles catching at you a bit too fiercely.
This month, the ground is thawing and the buds are cracking open. The northern hemisphere is opening up once again to light and it seems like the right time for it. I think that I too am ready for the light. I am getting too pulled in by my own inky night. It is time to breathe out and move again. It’s time to turn my face back to the sun.
I work on my son’s Waldorf school newsletter, and this month, I needed a quick little article for the front page. Usually, I can whip these things out pretty fast. It was easy to write about spring, throw in a Rudolf Steiner quote, bang out a few sentences that talk about the rhythm of childhood. It took me ten minutes, most of it on autopilot. After I was finished, I read it through and was surprised to see that I wrote these sentences:
“Winter is an ideal time to reflect upon our lives, our homes, and our hopes for the year ahead. As we move out of this dark cocoon into spring, we find that our visualizations for the future begin to manifest right along with the flowers and the buds on the trees. Spring is a time for expansion, growth, and renewal.”
Jay-sus, I thought after I read it. Where do I come up with this shite? I went to the delete button but stopped myself. True, it wasn’t the most well-written thing I have ever done. Also true was that it was cheesy as hell. But it was actually my deepest desire. I had written what I wanted most: for my time in the darkness to be a transformation. I wanted my highest self to manifest in my everyday life.
I decided to leave it in. Who really reads these newsletters anyway? And it seemed a bad omen to delete what I really want, not just for myself but for all of us. Spring is here, the flowers are making their hard journey towards the light. I hope my own journey is moving forward, even if only dirt clod by dirt clod, bit by bit. I have been spending time on Margaret Roach’s A Way to Garden site. I read it the way I read Sanskrit. I just like the sounds of the flowers and plants, even if I have no idea what they mean or look like. I love her post about her seed orders. For the most part, I have no idea what she is talking about, but I want to. Someday I want to be someone who can look through a seed catalog and know what “keepers” are, to know what herbs keep the bugs away and what vegetables to plant close together. I read her site the way I used to look at yoga magazines, feeling like a bit of a fraud, that I will never be someone who can do a handstand so why bother?
Then, last week, my husband came home from the hardware store with a handful of seed packets. Tomatoes. Wildflowers. Grass for our scraggly lawn. It seemed like a start for myself. I went to Gardeners.com where they have a tool to help you plan your own kitchen garden. There is a bare plot behind our house that Scott is going to help me dig up next week. Just writing this down is a little exciting for me. I can order seeds. I can read Margaret’s beautiful posts and learn about tubers and the best peas for freezing.
While this was my first winter in a long time, it is also my first spring. I am ready for the light, for the seeds of new beginnings. I bought a great new cookbook called Clean Start by Terry Waters. I love it because the recipes are organized by season, they are all gorgeous and easy, and she uses every kind of vegetable imaginable. In the back cover I found this quote:
Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest.The blessing is in the seed – Muriel Rukeyser.