Category Archives: Nature

Reflections on a Hallows’ Eve, or Losing a Friend

It is immeasurably convenient for us that the year is separated in light and darkness. Unless you are at the equator, the night dominates October through March, and the day reigns from April through September. The spring and summer are ideal for starting new projects, growing existing ideas, and preparing for the harvest of our labors. The fall and winter are dedicated to reaping those bounties, reflection, and rest as we prepare to enter the cycle once more.

The cooler, rainier weather beckons deep introspection. This inward gaze demands we examine the ups and downs of the past year. It’s been a good year for me. I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible. I have little to complain about. But, like everyone, there are things I sincerely wish could have gone better.

Any honest person could come up with quite a few items of regret. I could fill a legal pad, no doubt, but one thing that happened roughly a year ago sticks out in my mind this October. The change of season reminds me of what was lost. As I contemplate the year, I’d like to share an experience of mine. The names and particulars are omitted.

One of the perils of the age of information is that the context of our typed words is often lost. It is this precise oversight that let slip a casual comment on the polarity of our world, and that comment hurt someone. I spoke the truth, as I saw it, and, with most off-the-cuff remarks, I gave it little thought. My principal mistake was not exercising greater discernment with my words.

The comment related to the concept of excess polarity. The love and light crowds of new age spiritualists are quite popular these days, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at a surface level. But, if you dig deeper, the denial of shadow–the focus on exclusively good things without confronting our demons, can be horrendously toxic.

Most would agree that too much darkness leads to chaos and depravity. But many have not considered that too much light can be just as bad. Zealotry, haughtiness, and willful ignorance to problems are evils all their own. In pointing this out on some meme I have since long forgotten, the assumption was made my words were aimed at my dear friend.

They weren’t, but it didn’t matter. It started a chain reaction that ended the friendship. I don’t regret the message I felt compelled to share–that too much of anything, even light, is bad, but I know it could have gone better. Like with any forest fire, there were tragic losses.

The forest fire, despite its devastation, clears out the old brush and makes room for growth. This is not to say my friend was old growth, but the fire, in this case, represents old patterns. Just as we can co-create with others, we can co-destroy. Sometimes we challenge ourselves, or perhaps unconsciously conspire with others, to spread flames so that we may someday see that new growth. We hope to see the beautiful blossom that sprouts from a seed miraculously spared from the fire.

We can look back at the forest and admire its beauty and treasure it for what it was–a friendly union of souls that briefly shared a path. And, if we’re lucky, we might catch a glimpse, in either one of us, those sprouts of knowledge and companionship we sowed.

That is the gift of destruction.

And so, as we ponder and marinate on the shadow on this dark half of the year, we learn from our mistakes and take stock of our lessons yet to learn.

What are your reflections on the past year? What mistakes have you made, and what do you hope to accomplish?

I hope you all have a blessed fall.

P.S. Like musings on all topics animal, vegetable, mineral, or philosophical? Check out Birgitte Rasine, a fellow writer who I met long ago on a radio show and who’s work I enjoy reading. I think you will, too.

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.