This month’s newsletter is shorter than usual as we prepare for a longer Winter’s nap. While December is typically chucky-jam-full of activities, this year we might better align ourselves with the rhythm of the seasons. Days are shorter and darker, signaling a time when nature slows down and draws inward. Now, instead of trying to squeeze one more party, one more shopping trip, one more cocktail into an already overloaded schedule, we are forced to stay closer to our dens, to find gratitude in a warm cup of tea and cozy blanket.
For some, the lack of social activity and company may feel isolating, but we may be better served to see it at it as a time of solitude. The idea of solitude – extolled by philosophers and romanticized by poets – offers a time of mindfulness, of self-inspection, of spending time with that which is too easily ignored or overlooked when social demands keep us busy, the outcome of which is frequently profound growth and creativity. The Dark Ages gave way to the Renaissance, the wars and Depression of the early 20th Century brought about the New Deal. Undoubtedly, we are weary of the restrictions of COVID, but what if we’re in the midst of a chrysalis from which great social transformation springs forth?
What can we do when it seems we are unable to do anything? As one of my favorite writers, Pema Chodrun, says, “Start where you are.” This means acknowledging what you feel – anger, sorrow, fear, joy, desire – and letting it in. The key here is allowing the good, bad and ugly that feels desperately personal, and then understanding that you are part of a vast human chain that is feeling similarly. Through this, we awaken compassion, and through compassion, we can build a responsible, caring community.
For those that have taken the CTC training, this is the core of conversations: sharing a story about someone or something meaningful to you, being vulnerable and connecting to another human through vulnerability. We’re only human, after all.
Winter Solstice on December 21 – the longest night and shortest day of the year – celebrates the return of the light. One month later, Wednesday, January 20, we celebrate the inauguration of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president. While many of us see this as a “return of the light” of a more normal democracy, it must be more than returning to the systems and practices that ultimately resulted in the past four years.
Enjoy this time of solitude. Practice radical compassion. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Build a better world.
Peace and much love,