We are in the penitential season of Lent and nearing the purifying practice of fasting during Ramadan. We are engulfed in a huge transition, the end of which we may envision or guess, but cannot yet see with certainty. We are exhausted by restrictions engendered by a worldwide virus, and even with vaccinations available for many, there is no return to “normal”, whatever that may now look like. Our politicians seem to be busier attacking each other than working on cooperative solutions. Economic instability is a looming threat. Many people, including me, are feeling burdened and have ‘had enough, already’. It would be so nice if we could count on Easter, Eid, or Passover, celebrations that they are, to end the chaos around us. It does not seem that it will be so.
The well-known teacher Sandra Ingermann, in one of her workshops, advised those listening to never “sit down during the dark night of the soul.” It is advice that is relevant to the times. I do not think that she means to never relax or have fun; in fact, she encourages people to relax in nature, to let the healing and calming energy of nature enfold them. To not sit down means to not give up, to not let the weight of whatever one is processing cause one to stop engaging with life, to allow an apathy or hindering depression to take over and prompt one to withdraw from the growing and the change.
Change and its seeming disorder are always with us. Change is rarely patterned logically, nor is it predictable to the reasoning mind. Change is kaleidoscopic; the patterns can be beautiful or not, but they fall as they are, responding to a present moment. Sometimes it seems insane, yet, in the long run, change often brings a higher result. Is not spring in the heart of winter? The Chinese symbol shows that Yin is in Yang, and Yang is in Yin – the two are forever joined as one.
The Arctic peoples know well not to lie down in the snow in the dark and cold of winter, no matter the weariness one may feel. Just a few minutes of lying down in the Arctic cold and dark causes an exit from the planet. Similarly, it is when we feel the most burdened and disheartened that we must carry on, walking not as if we were about to fall under the burden, but standing straight, breathing calmly, finding beauty, and expressing kindness to all around. It is also good if we will sing, or dance from time to time. This is how we come through into the light after the dark. It takes discipline. It takes faith.
Part of carrying on through the dark is holding the highest vision we can of an outcome that nurtures the planet and its denizens and our fellow humans. It is not a matter of having our own way only, of power over others. It is not a vision simply of relief from suffering or the weight of our burdens. It is creative, drawn from the love of life we all intrinsically possess, if we are willing to see it. The particulars of individual highest visions may vary, but their ultimate goal is the same, the benefit of all concerned. It is a vision born of love. Such individual visions, combined, cannot but help to bring the highest good to all. It is not always easy to hold the highest vision, but it is the way to what we seek.
With Passover, Easter and Eed upcoming (and yes, St. Patrick’s Day, too), let us set our individual intents to walk our paths with confidence a while longer, and use our celebrations as encouragement along the way.