I went to pick a friend up recently to go out to dinner. As we walked to the car, he remarked on the fact that it was still light outside. Sure enough, even on that chilly, cloudy late afternoon, it was still daylight. Wasn’t it just yesterday that dusk settled on the city by this time? In the northern hemisphere, winter begins on December 21, winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. By mid-January, we are deep into winter and spring seems a long way off.
And yet, on the second day of winter, the very next day after the dark solstice, the light quietly begins to return as the days start their gradual lengthening. How interesting that as we enter the season of cold, while bears sleep, the rains come (in Oregon anyway), fires crackle in the fireplace, and we all hunker down, the light is coming, bringing the promise of sunny days and summer evenings.
I thought about the yin-yang symbol, the circle with the two curving shapes, one white, one black, in perfect balance and harmony. In the fullest part of the black shape is a small white circle, and in the fullest part of the white shape is a small black circle. Both small circles remind us that the seed for each shape is contained in the other.
Like the seasons. The seed of summer appears in the very beginning of winter as the light lingers longer in the cold, cold days. Likewise, the seed of winter is planted on the first day of summer as the light begins to softly fade, unnoticed as we enjoy walks in the park and iced tea on the porch.
Like summer and winter, joy and sadness come in their seasons. Within each is the seed of the other. We can no more stop their cycle than we can hold onto summer and keep winter at bay. Yet we try, and thereby cause ourselves so much suffering.
As one who was a big believer in the emotional version of daylight savings time, I tried so hard to hold on to the heels of the happy times, bargaining and pleading for just a little longer. The times of sadness were not even acknowledged, but instead denied, ignored, swept under rugs of fantasy.
It didn’t work. I got tired and gave up. Now the seasons come and go, each one bearing its own precious gifts, each one welcomed and invited in for tea.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. — Ecclesiastes 3:1