A week ago I walked through a beautiful snow labyrinth made by my friend and neighbour. It was the day of Imbolc, the mid-point between the start of winter and the beginning of spring. Like a tipping point, where we note that we are halfway through winter and from now on, every day brings us closer to sun and warmth, here in the north. I have been told that on this day, deep in the ground, the seeds begin to turn toward the light, the stirring begins.
Well, as I walked toward the centre of the labyrinth, snow was pouring down, not a speck of spring visible or tangible. Just a whole lot of flurries and cold sparkle. My mind carried along myriad thoughts, like stray cats, a bit of this and a bit of that as I wound my way along the snowy path. Once I arrived at the centre, I stood still, closed my eyes and settled into Stillness. I listened with my inner ears to see if I could sense any subtle stirring under the ground. Anything at all. With snow swirling all around me, I stayed for a while, listening. I followed down from my feet, down into the earth.
And there it was, almost imperceptible, buried way down, under layers of earth and thick, cold snow, a faint stirring. Subtle. My imagination possibly. Or not. It didn’t matter. What did matter was the experience of reaching down far, all the way to new growth, to hope. It is an active gesture, not a “wait until it falls in my lap” one. It takes focus, concentration, openness and willingness. It feels real.
Ever since, throughout the week, as reports of global affairs continue to dismay and disrupt, I remind myself to follow my feet down through the layers of earth, where seeds turn to light no matter how much snow is piling high (this week we just happened to have epic record-breaking February amounts of over 60cm. Seriously, everything is covered in snow these days, not a seed in sight!)
Listen with me, yes? No matter what is going on. We will not put our heads in the sand. We will keep our minds alert, we will pay attention to what is going on. And: we won’t forget to touch in with the hope, with the knowing that light is stronger, and that we cannot abandon that. Thawing toward warmth, we are part of keeping hope alive. We will listen for the seeds.
Or as Jack Gilbert said (thank you Liz Gilbert for calling my attention to this marvellous poet), we will be stubbornly glad:
“We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.”