A few days ago, I was walking my 14 year old daughter to school, through the falling leaves, the blustery wind and mild-drizzle, when she asked me "what are we supposed to do for fun now its winter" ?
While I sympathised with her obviously missing the summer sun, I was found myself answering her with things that I have heard many times (living in Totnes), but am only just starting to appreciate myself...
Summer is indeed a time for having fun outdoors, lolling in the sun in the long, warm days. But it is also a time for action, for 'doing', for spreading our wings and enjoying others.
Winter is more of a time for dreaming. For coming back to oneself and retreating into our own company. Consolidating our energy and reflecting upon the year that has passed.
We do this so that we can begin to dream the seeds of next year, and gather our energy to plant those dreams into fruition. In fact if we don't take this 'down time' during the dark months, we don't tend to resurface with renewed energy in the Spring, as we, like everything else, are supposed to do. It's not rocket science that we just can't keep going full tilt all year round, but it's a message that's easy to miss in a culture that celebrates business and doesn't give much respect to the concept of rest. The wise know better however.
I guess that is why so many people like to join our retreats at this time of year - to rest deeply, reflect more fully, and replenish themselves.
A tree doesn't hold on to its leaves.
While there doesn't appear to be much action for a tree over the winter, it is only their upper limbs that are dormant. Below ground there is still plenty of activity - the roots continue to feed the tree, but they also continue to grow.
So, nurture yourself over these coming darker months. Don't over-extend yourself socially.
And as I said in the previous blog post, if you get a sunny moment - take full advantage of it - get out there and sungaze.
And if you do find the lack of sunlight is bringing you down, understand two things.
Firstly, we are essentially tropical primates. While we may be able to survive without the sun, we are hardly evolved for it. A little, mild depression is understandable !
And secondly, consider how lucky we are... At least we get some sun.
Inuit Sun Rituals
In the very northern regions of humanity, where the sun is not seen at all for endless months,, the Inuit tribes have rituals of welcoming it back.
They know the exact date that it will resurface, and on that blessed morning, the whole landmass is dotted with collections of people facing the coming glow - hands raised in silent celebration and adoration of its return.
The merest sliver will appear for a few minutes the first day, and then they retreat back into the darkness. Each successive day's appearance is longer, and they stand there receiving for as long as it shows.
They do this each day until its direct sunlight reaches their feet for the first time (about an hour), then their sun rituals end until the next year.
There, but for the grace of god, go I...