I wake up early these days– earlier than I’d like to since I often stay up late taking care of emails, website maintenance, and other writing for our work at The Mesa. Kate and I live out in the country where the deep quiet and wide spaces between homes allow us to leave the windows open and curtains parted. We’ve been doing so recently as the nights have finally gotten warm. I wanted to attribute my early wakefulness to the advancing hour of dawn as we get closer to the summer’s official debut on June 21st, but it’s more than that causing me to stir. There’s a lot going on in the Allness around me.
Nearly every morning, we are serenaded by sequences of bird calls that start before the break of day. Our feathered friends seem to politely take turns with their various sounds and repeat them in order, pausing in between. I hear the neighbors’ rooster’s “err-err-ERR-err”, a mourning dove’s “ooo-WEE-ooo, ooo- ooo- ooo”, and the rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker hammering on a hollow tree, the cycle repeating over and over distinctly without overlap. I can’t help but listen and smile at their earnestness. Sometimes turkeys, mockingbirds, catbirds, or chickens are part of the queue, but the timed calls always have enough variance to keep my ear and mind away from sleep. I look at the clock and pull the pillow over my head in an attempt to doze for a few minutes longer, but there is something else unseen and unheard stirring me.
I had already been aware, at least in theory, of the different Nature energies of the year’s four seasons and their effect on us. The wisdom of traditional Chinese Medicine tells us that we humans need to readjust our energy systems to work in concert with seasonal changes or we will be out of balance with our world. Acupuncturists recommend that even those who are well and fit come in four times a year to get rebalanced for seasonal Earth energies. Ayurveda, the ancient healing wisdom of India, teaches us to eat season-appropriate foods to match our bodies up with the time of year. The Native American Medicine Wheel associates each seasonal quadrant with different aspects of body, mind, and spirit. It reminds us of the changing energies of the Natural World in the repeating yearly cycle and their individual lessons for us.
Every season has its own vibration. Fall is the time when the trees shed their leaves and send their sap down into their roots. It’s a time when Nature is shutting down for the coming of winter, turning off the lights to go to sleep. I have often felt a vague sadness from it, like the last minutes of a great party when friends are saying goodbye. I’d be filled with a notion of things ending as the trees became bare and the skies grayed. My body clock shifts with the shortening days and I’ve always wanted to stop “saving daylight” much earlier than we do.
Winter has sometimes been tough for me as the short hours of daylight made me pine for the sun and frigid temperatures caused me to focus on simply sitting somewhere warm. It’s the time of year to “go into the tipi”, when much in Nature dies so that it can be reborn in the spring. In that time of slowed vibration (cold) I perceive a deafening silence and separation that I have at times pushed back against, in part because it makes me slow down and turn inward. This is exactly what Nature intends us to do– not plow through the snow to get to the office, mall, or mailbox.
In early spring, the plants and animals begin to stir again and I feel the transitional aspect to that awakening. Sap rises and the trees behind our house become tinged with pink as buds form. As Nature rubs the sleep from its eyes and the days get longer, I feel the approach of something that’s not quite here yet, like a train in the distance. Suddenly in May (April where I used to live in the DC Metro area) Nature bursts forth with exponential growth. The myriad plants that surround me are all putting their life-force (not imaginary!) into new limbs, leaves, and fragrant structures of reproduction. I can almost feel their ardent photosynthesis. Our neighbors’ bees buzz around our open windows and the birds are raising their young, teaching them wing and song. Nature is in heightened motion.
Now, the approach of summer is waking me up before I want to be. The Allness feels too “loud”. It seems an intrusion, the “neighbors” next door being too boisterous and noisy for such an early hour. What is this energy that’s so exuberant and potent that I can’t sleep through it? Abundant Life. I’m being bathed in it, bombarded by it, and it will not be denied. Not even the pillow over my head can keep it out. Spring has changed the nature of its vibration as summer quickly approaches, raising it as things heat up. It’s the spiritual, sexual, creative energy of life in full swing all around me I’m feeling. But what about inside of me? Am I letting this energy in? Am I vibrating in sync with it and radiating it back, or resisting and turning away? The pillow over my head tells the story.
Soon summer will be upon me, humming along with heat and humidity, long sunny days and nights filled with lightning bugs and the sounds of cicadas. Gardens will grow, young animals will mature, and people will be busy with barbeques and vacations. I’m happy wearing shorts and flip-flops again, and enjoy the daylight that lasts until after 9. I look forward to the approaching Summer Solstice, which marks the first “real” day of summer, but not without a touch of sadness. Why? Just like the winter Solstice heralds the return of the sun from that season’s darkness, after the Solstice the days will be getting shorter again, even as the sun becomes warmer. It feels like saying “hello” and “goodbye”, both at the same time.
As I think about the seasons it occurs to me that the transitional times of spring and fall have always been my favorite parts of year. It’s not too hot or too cold, and Nature is not too active or too quiet. Spring and fall feel balanced to me. Winter’s Yin (cold, dark, and dying) and summer’s Yang (heat, light, and Abundant Life) have felt, well… extreme to me. Today I get it. They’re POLARITIES, and while they feel uncomfortable to my sensitive Piscean system, I could choose to look at them differently.
When I pushed the pillow off my head and got up this morning, I muscle tested myself about saying “YES” to spring, summer, fall, and winter respectively. I got confirmation from my body-mind to what I already knew. I was saying “NO” to the extremes of summer and winter and “YES” to the “balanced” seasons of spring and fall. I was also saying “NO” to the rush of Abundant Life around me. As I pondered these results a deeper truth emerged for me. What I was really saying “NO” to was polarities in general; life and death, male and female, good and bad, lack and plenty, activity and rest. That’s what I was pushing back against, the experience of opposites, the swings of life from one extreme to the other in both my outer and inner worlds. As summer heats up, the days get shorter. As winter grows colder, light increases. Might I see the overall balance instead?
Kate helped me with one of our new little healings, guiding me to switch my inner operating system from saying “NO” to life’s polarities to “YES!”. I could feel energy shifting and swirling in my body as something released in my solar plexus. When we were done, the muscle tests had shifted, my body-mind saying “YES” not only to polarities in general, but also to summer, winter, and the rustle of Abundant Life. I feel different somehow, more energized, focused, and open to the Flow of Creation with all it offers. Now I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow morning brings and my new response to the exuberance of a late spring dawn.
We can’t allow life’s polarities to shut us down. We’re here to merge polarities on this Earth as we move toward the unity that Creation intends for us. In order to do so, we must welcome opposites where they exist and find ways to bring fire and water together with neither being consumed by the other. This doesn’t mean we have to necessarily like life’s polar extremes or promote any one of them, only accept their existence and admit them as part of our inner world. The trick is not to push back against one or the other, but to see them as parts of a paired whole. Maybe that way we will someday hold them in balance.