|Posted on 19 December, 2018 at 23:15|
And suddenly you know: It is time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.
At the approach of Christmas, this time of year is of course a time of preparation for transformation, even preparation for a new birth. We put the house in order, we clear away old un-needed items, sweep, clean, dust, polish. We decorate the house, bring in new, bright, colourful, evocative things. And children especially can sense the magic and excitement of a different world entering, as it were. Likewise, we can think of our body, mind and feelings as composing something like a house, and this too has to be cleared out, cleaned, swept and prepared, if there is to be a new birth, a transformation within.
It is notable that Christmas occurs in the Wintertime, when things in the garden and in the countryside have died back. It is a time of rest for the Earth. Perhaps, even, Wintertime is when the deepest wisdom can be born. Wintertime is a necessary preparation for Springtime. Spring will not come without a Winter.
In our beautiful Lake District, mists often descend from the hills and settle in the valleys, and even clouds can occasionally be seen rolling slowly down the hillsides, clinging to the slopes. And white mists arise from the lakes and rivers. As the sun rises, the mists gradually disperse with the sunshine, the mountain tops being often clear long before the lower ground. Gradually what had been vague and unclear now emerges with a new and bright clarity.
Earlier, the mist concealed the beauty lying behind it, but now you can begin to make out streams flowing down the mountainside. There has been rain recently, so they are flowing strongly and cheerfully. One stream in particular catches your attention, and you follow it from where it is barely visible at the top of the hill, downwards as it gathers strength, forms little waterfalls and pools, flowing downwards until it empties itself into the deep blue lake below.
This deep, still lake is not disturbed by a breath of wind, and as far as the eye can see there is not a ripple upon it at the present time. You know there must be a circulation within it, a replenishing and a releasing, as streams enter the lake and a river leaves it, but the whole expanse is still and smooth like a mirror, reflecting the sunlight, the skies, the mountains.
Likewise, there is a deep, calm, still state that we can find within ourselves. Now and again the breeze will come, and ripples form on the surface of the lake. And even strong winds and storms may develop, and large waves appear. Yet, always, deep down in that lake you can find that stillness and calm.
In all life, on all scales, we notice cycles and seasons, both in Nature and within ourselves. There is movement upwards and movement downwards; movement left and movement right; expansion and contraction; breathing in and breathing out; there is day and night; birth and death; the cycle of the seasons; the cycle of our thoughts and feelings; our moods, pleasant and otherwise. We can picture a pendulum, swinging to the left, to the right, to the left, to the right. Our feelings also may swing to the left, to the right.... Yet always there is a central point that is untouched, as it were, by this swinging. We can find this still, central point of equilibrium within ourselves, embracing both the left and the right at the same time.
And how strange that birth and death are so intimately related. Decaying vegetation, even corpses, eventually become nourishing soil for new growth. For something new to appear, the old must make way, and a clear ground formed for a new beginning. The soil must be prepared for the seed to grow. And how is the soil prepared? It must be cleared of weeds, it must be nourished, and it must be exposed to the light and heat of the sun. The seed itself must fall to the ground and die. The seed must cease to be a seed in order to grow and to bring forth fruit.
And so, this Christmas, having swept away everything that is no longer needed, having prepared, cleaned and decorated the house, may you truly experience the magic of a new beginning, and the mystery of the feast of the Eternal Birth.
[With thanks to Meister Eckhart, Maurice Nicoll, Robert Willis (Dean of Canterbury Cathedral), St. John the Evangelist, Rumi and Oscar Wilde, among many others, directly and indirectly, for kernels of ideas used.]
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