By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
IN NORMAL TIMES, the year-end holidays signal that quiet, introspective period we call winter. This year, we had a paradigm-shaking event to take us through January; as cold as the world seemed in this last month, our hearts warmed us. Now we await Valentine's Day to give us another break from our daily routines, and then Saint Patrick's Day will cheer us on until Easter and the coming of spring.
The mouse hole. Photo by Rachel Asher.
Here in the Pea Patch, winter grinds slowly and with little romance. We are planted in that middle ground between stunningly dramatic snows to the North and milder, less volatile weather to the South. Color has drained away and my world is dressed in shades of black, brown and grey; the occasional flash of cardinal wings offers a welcome bright red counterpoint to an almost surrealistic drabness. The wind blows bitter and the bare, tangled trees shiver in constant motion, as if they're dancing a bit to keep warm. The shimmer of reflection off the lake has become a still glint as ice creeps farther and farther across its broad face.
You know it's winter here when you jot down the phone number to the neighbor that has a 4-wheel drive. It's winter when you overhear conversations at the local greasy spoon about having to break the ice at the watering hole with a backhoe so the cattle can drink. It's winter when the fourth blanket you put on your bed just about does it, but -- as you discover around 3 in the morning -- not quite. And it's winter when the constant din of mind chatter begins to doze off occasionally, leaving you to quieter, more essential thoughts.
Ruth Stout, guru to gardeners in the last century, put it this way: "There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself."
Seasons used to drive the natural rhythms of our lives; now they seldom come to mind, unless to complicate our activity with weather challenges or pick our pockets with higher energy costs. As few of us are country mice, the majority of us have a whole other agenda than what Gaia is constantly whispering into our ear. We are "24/7" and "365" people; no longer connected to the flow of life that nature has established. But that doesn't mean that those rhythms don't still drive us, deep in our flesh and blood.
We are mammals. It doesn't matter how clever we are in creating alternative environments and agendas; our internal clocks push us toward what is best for us. When Spring comes, we race out the door like we've been shot out of a cannon; why can't we recognize the wisdom of a winter hibernation: slowed to a walk, conserving our energy and renewing our psyches? There is an instinctual gift at hand that we cannot afford to ignore.
Modern society overall may not recognize the wisdom of seasons, but astrologers have an edge when it comes to seasonal stuff; they follow the cycles. We give a respectful nod to the charting of the Sun's progress at this cross-quarter celebration of Imbolc
; we tie ourselves back to the earth and her innate wisdom as we take stock of our timelines. We honor the circles within circles, the wheels within wheels.
As we come out of a larger sociopolitical season of undoing, perhaps it would be pertinent to take a bit of time to enter the internal silence this winter season offers us -- to restore our energy, and gather ourselves together for what lies ahead. The older one gets, the more apparent the wisdom of this quote from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (King James version of the Bible):
To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;
A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;
A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and
a time to sow;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;
A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.
As I read this recently, it seemed a kind of checklist upon which I could chart the progress we've made in this last decade. The extremism of our circumstance has acted as a profound catalyst to soften the ground for a breakthrough in consciousness; we have had our centuries-long season of hate and war -- the sharp desire of our heart is to enter into a period of love and peace.
After the rending and sowing, which we've surely done, comes the season of speaking up. We've endured a forced period of keeping silent; those of us who did speak were ignored and marginalized. In a shocking u-turn, I'm both amazed and delighted at how quickly the repressive gag orders of the past have faded away.
For instance, CBS did a recent 60 Minutes piece
on the reality of Palestinian life; it took courage to buck the establishment whitewash of Israel's activity there. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
published an article
by two former FBI agents indicating that the Bush administration was aware of mortgage fraud as early as 2002, but they ignored it. Last week, our new president chided Republican legislators for giving credence
to Rush Limbaugh's hate-speak; I'd bet money that the rise of violent crimes against blacks and hispanics in the last few weeks could be tracked back to this institutionalized propagandizer.
These things -- Israel, Wall Street, Limbaugh -- have all been rogue elephants in America's living room for too long, protected by layers of partisan denial and cover-up. The list of things gone wickedly wrong in this country are bubbling to the surface and all that we have been unable to name in years prior is being pointed out now, as both cause and symptom of our decline. Those of us who keep tabs on news through alternative methods were aware of these issues, and plenty more; mainstream press did not report on them, towing the company line and keeping their investors happy. As we follow the news of print media's meltdown
, I wonder how many would be suffering so badly if they'd told us the truth instead of dutifully deflecting our attention with propaganda and suspect political analysis.
During the cold season, as fields lay fallow and systems slow for necessary refreshment, we're gathering our power for the push and pulse of Spring. The national winter of our discontent is partly behind, partly ahead -- it will take years to dig out and reconfigure our Republic. Our seasonal winter, meanwhile, gives us an opportunity to tuck in, weather the storms and allow the bile of outdated repressions and criminal activity to float to the surface where it will create a new landscape in the coming months. Then we can examine our reality with an eye toward "a time to keep, and a time to cast away." Pluto in Capricorn will have an opinion, I'm sure.
Obama's agenda has been in the works for almost two years and he has already begun an impressive cycle of implementation
; the fallout will take us into new territory quickly enough. Intense periods of activity are always followed by a time of analysis and assessment; we've extended ourselves farther than we realize, I think. Even though we are being pushed ahead by the potent and restless astrology and the challenges of 21st century life, we would do well to honor the natural curve of our diminished energy and make time for quiet and rest.
Recently passed artist, Andrew Wyeth
, showed an instinctual sensitivity to this season when he said, "I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape -- the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." After the last eight years, our whole story is bubbling somewhere below the surface; and what a story it will be! We no longer need to dig for truth -- like water, it will find its own level.
The four inches of snow outside my window reminds me that Winter is both beautiful and perilous, and makes demands of me: physically, emotionally and psychically. The long fight behind us, politically, has taken its toll -- the one ahead requires us to fill ourselves if we are to be useful in the coming period. For those of us on this side of the planet, this is the season to renew acquaintance, as Ruth Stout reminds us, with ourselves. Winter's gift is rest of the spirit -- make room for it and you will discover this to be a season of blessing.