The Dark Half of the Year

The cycles of nature are more than a metaphor for our lives – they are at the heart of life itself.

Life basks in the glory of the light half of the year, but the journey doesn’t start there. A new life has its roots in the depths of winter, on the coldest of nights, being nurtured by the inner warmth of the earth under a blanket of snow. As the snow thaws, that once insurmountable barrier lifts and the seed sprouts forth, soaking in the sun and rain of spring.  In summer the plant matures and brings forth new life.

Slowly, the days turn shorter, the nights cooler, and the plant ceases to grow. It turns inward, saving its strength for the darkness to come. Leaves fall, vines retreat, and bare branches remain. The tree waits for the light to return, and slumbers in the dark half of the year.

Humans are more complex than trees, but we are nevertheless an integral part of this constant cycle of death and rebirth. We retreat in our homes in the cold, damp, and dreary months and focus more on ourselves and our families. The holiday season marks this occasion as joyful abundance in the face of natural adversity.

At one time we were not so disconnected from the dark half of the year – we struggled to survive during these inhospitable months. We conserved energy. We lived off of our savings. And we endured, patiently waiting for the sun’s return.

And because the human spirit is eternal, we persevered.

One can see this cycle throughout the day: we feel compelled to work and thrive in the sunlight and to rest and relax in the moonlight. We plant our crops in the light half of the year and harvest in the fall for a long cold winter.

The wise human will do more than just note the time of day or the day of the year – they will see, not with their eyes, but with their very soul, how we are an inseparable part of this cycle. We may witness this cycle sixty, eighty, or even a hundred times before we return to darkness.

And then, in the depths of winter, when our grand tour of life seems over, we wait, patiently, under the snow, ready to be born anew.

 

Author: Robert W. Oliver II

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