Spring Equinox corresponds with the rising sun (the direction east) and the Aries New Moon (the beginning of the astrological year), an aligned moment each year to begin again. In life each beginning starts with a question - an honest inquiry that sets us in motion. Yet how often do we give energy to crafting the question?
Where in our culture have we been taught to ask a question which is tender and innocent, less critical and snarky? Where have we been taught to ask the questions from the heart (vulnerable and compassionate) as opposed to the “head” questions that fill our learning systems? As we know, the set-up, i.e. the questions, designates the tone for the whole journey.
Humans hunger for answers. We search for answers in books, people, oracles, and inside ourselves. But so often the answers elude us and we get frustrated. And in our frustration we think it must be the wrong book, the wrong teacher, the wrong oracle, etc. What if answers eluding us is due to asking the wrong questions?
All journeys begin with a question. We are often afraid of wise and provocative questions - what path might they lead us down? What hard truths might I have to face? Who would we transform into? Questions are powerful and the refining of our questions is the quickest and most transformative way to uncover the answers that we seek.
What if we honored questions for what they were? A doorway to more questions and a way to cultivate greater curiosity. An inquiry all on their own, whether an answer arises wouldn't be the point. What if we held questions in high regard and not just something that directly moved us to action? How would questions change us if they were not about the answer, but about simply getting deeper and deeper to more questions and therefore more truths?
For many years I had a prayer practice that required several rounds of prayer. Each round started with a question, and each round brought me closer to the answers I sought. At the end of each round I would find myself with a new question - one that was clearer and more refined in regards to what my heart & soul were really grappling with. By the end of the three rounds, I was grateful for the opportunity to improve in my original question. I found that what I considered an impediment to my development often diminished with the wiser questions.
This spring equinox my invitation is for each of us to be open to questions leading to more questions. To invite an abundance of answers through a fertile practice of questioning, and not to halt inquiry simply because one answer has been found. May we all have a practice of inquiry that allows kind, gentle, delicate questions as you would ask a baby bird instead of the stern, task master questions so many of us hear in our internal worlds. May your question be ever wiser and lead you to a deeper knowing of yourself and the world around you.
Here we stand in the in-between, the doorway from one year to the next. I was born at this in-between time. I was starting life on the last day of the year, when everyone else (except my birthday twins) was closing a chapter and readying to pick up with the new. It is a strange time to have a birthday (in my experience). Lots of energy, lots of expectations, and a celebration where the focus isn’t really on the present but what’s to come when the clock strikes midnight. For me, birthdays are joyous certainly, and they also conjure up deep reflections within. This paradox is much like standing in a threshold - you are neither here nor there, OR maybe you are both here and there.
In my tradition, thresholds are something to be sanctified. We place a ritual object called a mezuzah within our doorframes. This relic for me is a deep reminder that beauty and the divine can inhabit the smallest of spaces. And no matter how small or large a space is, it can be a place for contemplation, connection, and devotion.
At this gate of the new year, I invite you into reflection with me. Not to change anything (you can if you want), but to take account of your life lived. To create space for what dwells inside you: your hopes, dreams, frustrations, disappointments, resentments, insecurities, talents, grief, gifts, and everything else which resides in your being-ness. Where are the thresholds inside you - the places where two emotions, two feelings, two thoughts touch? What is the smallest drop of reverence and devotion you can invite into this internal threshold? What oh-so-very-ordinary, mundane space inside you can you adorn with a sacred, beautiful energy to show how miraculous the ordinary truly is?
I hope as you move into this next year, the threshold is a space where you can leave behind what no longer serves you, and step into the mantle of wisdom, compassion, gentleness, and knowing.
It’s the end of the year and I am tired. Thank goodness it's the season of rest (said no human ever in December, though the natural world in the northern hemisphere would disagree). It has been a year of personal accomplishments and spectacular failures. A year of deepened relationships and relationships lost. And a year of several personal health quagmires and recently a death in the family. My year could be your year. It is a year of being human.
And being human is not a moral failing. We react before we can think, we respond when we are more aware, we hide when we are frightened, we get sick, we mis-communicate, and we perpetually learn what works for us and what is no longer needed. Life is a laboratory where we are continually experimenting and course correcting. But instead of resting in this tinkering, many of us suffer trying to strive for a static arrival.
I don’t want any of us to suffer. But denying suffering isn’t not suffering. It’s denying. Sometimes denial is a much needed survival skill and other times denial is what keeps us from the freedom we seek. To cozy up to denial and willingly take a peak around the corner takes courage and requires deep vulnerability and humility. It takes embracing that we are human. And humans are collective, transitory creatures. Knowing this - how can we rest in this knowing of our ephemeralness, which we spend so much of our lives trying to deny?
One simple way is to remember we and all of our neighbors are part of nature. Not separate from it. The trees shed and we shed. The crops have a cycle and so do we. Each form we take builds upon another and another. The weather is dynamic, the seasons change, animals migrate & hibernate, and the physical ends while the luminescent remains. Surrounding all of this in every nook and cranny is the invitations for joy, engaging our senses, communing with others, celebrating, creating, laughing, weeping, mourning, and above all else being.
So in this pause of the solstice. A marking of time of one extreme before we make our way back to the other end of the continuum, I invite you to pause and give witness to your very human year. Everything you have experienced has been witnessed by the moon, the stars, the trees, and other living creatures. Who has supported you? Where has reciprocity been experienced? Where has there been a falling short? And finally what are you most proud of? And how can you savor the tiniest drop of that pride to help sustain you throughout this season?
For 2023, my wish for us all is a year of being seen and support by those who care for you, a year where you become more you and are welcomed for it, and a year where being human is filled with more ease and joy.