Here we are on the cusp of another transition. It’s the liminal time between the seasons of autumn and winter here in the northeast of the United States. It is sometimes hard to comprehend that our friends in the southern hemisphere are preparing to leave spring and enter summer. Although the official astronomical winter does not start until December 21st, in a few weeks, climatological winter sets in here with the end of November and beginning of December. By the time this reaches you the Catskill High Peaks of New York, will more than likely have seen its first snow. Meanwhile, below the equator, the onset of summer is driving growth.
Frosty mornings have set in, and I can feel the change out in nature, particularly its slowing rhythms and changing tempos. The woolly bear caterpillars are blacker than brown, and the squirrels have built their dreys high in the trees this year. According to local folklore, these are portents of a robust winter. It does not matter if you believe in that or not, it’s fun to think about.
This is the time of year when I really start to look inward. Reflecting over the past year as winter rolls in, I ask myself some questions. Have I honored the commitments that I have made to others? Are there milestones that I set for myself that I did not quite meet? Have I leaned into the practices that have been gifted to me and have I learned from them? Did I respond in an authentic way to what the Universe was presenting to me? Did I extend care and compassion as I made this circuit around the sun? The answers may be yes, no, maybe, or I don’t know. In some way it is not the answers that matter, it is that I can ask the questions and have them become fuel for next year’s growth.
Most importantly, this is the time of year where I give thanks. It’s not about the foods and gifts we may indulge during holiday season. As much as I enjoy those, they fail to capture what I give thanks for. I give thanks to the people I have met and connected with this year in whatever way that was. I give thanks to my family, friends, those close to me, and those not close to me as well, for whatever they have brought to the path. I give thanks to those I have perceived as adversaries for mirroring my own confusion back to me. I honor our Native American peoples here in North America. I give thanks to the indigenous lands I live upon, for nourishing me. I give thanks to Pacha Mama, Mother Earth, Mother Time, Mother Universe, for holding me.
In the northern hemisphere the onset of winter begins the season of hibernation, the time for deep dreaming and musing. Fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures bring us not just inside but to our hearth. As we draw closer to Grandfather Fire for warmth and light, let’s not forget that there is a deep mystery in this dark half of the year. Deep in the soil of our psyche the ground for the next turning is preparing, incubating, churning, and assimilating. I look forward to what the return of the sun will bring.
From my heart to yours,
Christopher T. Franza,
OMEC/Board of Directors