Late this summer, after we were home from the hospital, someone said to Jenn and I that we were a chrysalis. I loved the visual in that statement. We have been pulling in, to heal, to work, and to grow. We are learning what we needed to do to take care of ourselves. I am glad and full of gratitude to be doing this with my lovely wife – together on this path, not one or the other.
We have taken this chrysalis time to really focused in on us, not necessarily “us” as a couple but “us” as individuals walking through this life, side by side. I feel like all of my health stuff was just what we needed to up our personal growth game. Like a video game that you have gotten to play really well and to level up you have to go through really hard challenge to move forward on your video game journey. July 7, 2018 is the day we got to our really hard challenge. We did not realize at the time that this was going to be an opportunity to level up in our relationship, in our spiritual life, and at our core in how we walk through this life. With different people at a different time maybe this kind of dramatic life event would have torn people apart. I am very thankful I found that person that can ride this wave with me and not let go.
As fall buzzed by in a flash it feels as winter has settled in earlier than usual. Jenn has been closing up the property for the past couple of weeks. I unfortunately am not able to strap on my Carharts and help her out in the cold. My neuropathy is activated by cold so I am inside a lot since the weather change – breathing cold air is not fun for me right now, my hands hurt as soon as I get out of bed until I get my hand warmers going. The neuropathy is starting to lift though, I am thankful for that. I am a bit frustrated at my inability to do things, for example walk the dogs – who are getting irritable themselves with the early winter. I like being outside, touching the property and working on projects but it is not what I am supposed to be doing right now. What am I supposed to be doing this season?
I do not want to be overcome by the darkness of the season as can happen especially in Michigan …… about the time February gets here and everyone is done with the darkness and cold of the hibernation season. March gives a glimmer of hope but snow usually makes another visit, not to be cynical but March is a tough month. It sounds like spring but it is not really. Jenn and I have discovered tapping our maple trees and making syrup has brought something positive to those tough months. This next season we may even have a tree tapping party.
I never want to move away from Michigan. I may become a snowbird at some point but I have always enjoyed the cleansing struggle of the sesasons as we Michiganders experience it. I need the winter to more fully enjoy the spring, summer and fall. I need the time to reflect and slowdown. Every spring has felt like I am a butterfly exploding from my cocoon of hibernation, ready to smell the flowers and play in the dirt. It is the most exciting and vibrant time of the cycle. One could ask “If it is so great, why not live somewhere that it is like spring and summer all year around?” My answer has always been because I need the balance of the darkness, pulling in to renew myself just like the plants and animals do. A Michigan tomato in August and September is so much sweeter because it is only here for a time. I am able to miss it so I honor its gifts even more.
This writing popped up on Facebook recently and it really resonated with me regarding pulling in. I love this alternative twist to the darkness of winter. “….descent into our own darkness was so necessary in order to find our light.”
We are approaching the threshold of winter.
Life is being drawn into the earth, painlessly descending down into the very heart of herself.
And we as natural human animals are being called to do the same, the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep, darkness and the depths of our own inner caves continually tugging at our marrow.
But many find the descent into their own body a scary thing indeed, fearing the unmet emotions and past events that they have stored in the dark caves inside themselves, not wanting to face what they have so carefully and unkindly avoided.
This winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this period of descent into our own darkness was so necessary in order to find our light. That true freedom comes from accepting with forgiveness and love what we have been through and vanquishing the hold it has on us, bringing the golden treasure back from the cave of our darker depths.
This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean as it were and clear out the old so you can walk into spring feeling ready to grow and skip without a dusty mountain on your back & chains around your ankles tied to the caves in your soul.
A time for the medicine of story, of fire, of nourishment and love.
A period of reconnecting, relearning & reclaiming of what this time means brings winter back to a time of kindness, love, rebirth, peace and unburdening instead of a time of dread, fear, depression and avoidance.
This modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, bad food and consumerism.
And yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and people are left feeling as if there is something wrong with them, that winter is cruel and leaves them feeling abandoned and afraid. Whereas in actual fact winter is so kind, yes she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards the darkness and potential death of what we were, but this journey if held with care is essential.
She is like a strong teacher that asks you to awaken your inner loving elder or therapist, holding yourself with awareness of forgiveness and allowing yourself to grieve, to cry, rage, laugh, & face what we need to face in order to be freed from the jagged bonds we wrapped around our hearts, in order to reach a place of healing & light without going into overwhelm.
Winter takes away the distractions, the noise and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth.
•illustration by Jessica Boehman•
•words Brigit Anna McNeill•