(These words are my holiday gift to our readers. After all, the Deschutes Land Trust is about understanding the wisdom of the natural world--and protecting it.)
Last night I watched the earth's shadow creep across the moon. Orion strode just below, his light near-lost in the moon's brilliance. Lepus, the star-rabbit was invisible at The Hunter's feet. The Seven Sisters were drowned in moonlight.
I watched from the side-yard. I loved/love that the shadow moved without any human intervention. It could not be sped up. It could not be slowed down. I could have been standing anywhere of a million places watching it. For a few seconds, I imagined I stood on Luna Mesa in the Mojave. For another few seconds, I was on my backporch in my old cabin in Flagstaff. Beam me all over, Scotty, in search of dark and light.
I watched and waited. Watching and waiting are the most powerful forms of prayer I have found. The shadow moved steadily. The silver light dimmed. Slowly, Orion's stars glowed brighter.
Cloud-veils drifted in from the northeast. Orion began to disappear. The rabbit and the sisters remained invisible. I knew they were there--and I remembered that sometimes the star we see is long dead. Our tiny witness, our tiny certainties.
By the time the moon was covered with earth's shadow, the clouds had won. Orion's light was gone and the tip of my nose was icy. I whispered Thank You. and went into the warmth of the little house.
I crawled into bed and fell asleep almost immediately. That too was a gift over which I had no control. Perhaps you understand.
Today, at 3:38 p.m. in the Pacific Time Zone, Winter Solstice brings the turning of the true year. Without us standing in long post office lines to mail packages; without racing to the mall to buy a few last-minute gifts; without fighting panic as our holiday flight is cancelled; without any of our tiny human intentions and terrors, the light will begin to grow.
In growing light and shrinking dark, every living human is kin. No matter what else divides us--our judgements, our resentments, our illusion that any one of us is more than, less than--we live under the rule of light and dark. Ask the sprouting seed. Ask the cicada husk. Ask your body. It is wise as celestial light, ancient as celestial dark.
~ Hope and fear cannot alter the seasons. Chogyam Trungpa