At this time of year in New England, all the growth of summer and the business of autumn settle into a silence that is palpable. The sun is at its nadir and the days are amazingly short. The chatter of birds and mammals is at a minimum and all the humans are tucked into their houses for the duration of the season.
I have often pondered at the purpose of seasons in our lives. The simple periodicity, the progression from one state to the next is such a gentle manner, reminds me of the beating of a heart or the cycle of breathing. In the seasons we can ponder the subtleties of their differences because they are drawn out in such a luxurious manner.
I, personally, have always enjoyed the sweet differences in the seasons – the sparkling magic of spring as the life in the plants and animals reemerges from the darkness of winter, the fullness of summer’s bloom and the settling down of autumn back into the primordial silence of winter. I find each moment in the cycle captivating.
There is something precious in each part of the cycle of seasons. There is no moment that is better than another, only the shifting flavors of eternity. One of the most intriguing times is the winter solstice, when the activity of the year’s cycle reaches its quietest point. The birds have flown south, the leaves are on the forest floor and the loudest sound is the wind as it washes everything clean and ready for a new start.
Looking around, there is still plenty going on, but inside, in the feeling that rests deep in our hearts, the seasons also turn. And the inner feeling of the winter solstice is of a palpable silence. All things outside are at their quietest, but there is still much happening, but that inner feeling – that is where the silent root of all things comes to the fore and pronounces once again, “The King has come.”
The King is our inner Self. The King is the source and goal of all things including the person we call ourselves. Most of the year He sits back and allows the dramas of life to play out. The wise men know that he is there and consult Him constantly, but for almost everyone He is just a thought, a remembrance. But once a year, when the world goes silent, He stands forth and reminds us that He is “the reason for the season.”
Thus we revel in the reemergence on the inner silence by gathering with our loved ones and exchanging the gifts of joy and shared wonder at the beauty of life. The symbol of this time is the twinkling light, the liveliness in the silent immensity. We find as many ways to celebrate this as there are cultures around the world, but the impulse is the same – to appreciate the silence that is what we are.
From this the new year emerges, fueled by the dreams still left to be lived from the previous time. The sunlight grows stronger, the ground warms an it all begins anew. And as we roll into the busy activity of the new cycle of seasons we can rest assured that the silence that we are will be there to support all that we do.