“Winter moon, the creator is in everything”
– Traditional Seneca chant
It is morning here. The sun is streaming through the windows as the sun is wont to do and the birch tree outside bends gently in the wind. The sky is blue and my washing machine rumbles in the kitchen, full of last week’s dirty clothes.
As well as all those things there is pain. Pain around my stomach, in my arms, hands, back, legs and eye sockets. My limbs shake as I use them. Focussing on that pain, I become alone and lost in thoughts of despair and isolation. However, from a different perspective I am not and have never been alone. The wind that blows the birch tree is also giving me the air that I continue to breathe and each of the trees outside and birds singing from their branches are carried forward with me on ten thousand grass tips. All of creation is contained within us and will carry on moving forward even when the birch tree and I have ceased being in our present form.
This feeling of connection is not always there. Often I am just a solitary human being struggling with pain and the fear of annihilation. Sometimes the moon is full, sometimes it is dark. Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha.
The winter solstice was yesterday. From here on the days will begin to get lighter, even if the hardest part of winter is yet to come. I have been reading the alliterative medieval poem Gawain and the Green Knight which has often been interpreted as a vegetation myth. The Green Knight, who is later revealed to be Bertilak de Hautdesert, appears at Arthur’s court in midwinter, clad all in green and carrying a holly branch. After he is beheaded by Sir Gawain, he picks up his head and departs for the green chapel where the two will meet again a year hence. The green world is impossible to kill; you may remove parts of it but life will continue in a different form. Likewise, when we cease to be, our constituent parts will go on. Sometimes this is a comforting thought, other times less so.
For the next three nights I will celebrate the turning of the year with my children and after that we will see what comes next. Despite the continuation of life, no moment happens twice and I want to be alive to all that I can at this time.
I wish you all a very happy midwinter (or midsummer for those in the southern hemisphere!) with friends and family. May your cup overfloweth with goodness.