I think back to the landscape of my childhood in Colombia, to the embrace of the mountains on the horizon and the orchid treasures of my tropical cloud forest playground; I remember how green everything is, even when the frost of the coldest hours kills the grasses on the plateau; time flows without showing itself, there. All year, every day, the trees offered me their leafy shade and I could find flowers budding in Oma’s garden. There were warm, sunny days of throwing myself on the damp earth to nap, and moist, cold ones, when my fingers would clench around a horse’s bridle as I raced for shelter from the rain. I never saw a snowflake in the air, and the days were always equally long and bright.
When I first moved to the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, at this time of year, when the days are so short and dark, and the wind blows through denuded treetops, cold under my collar, I felt heavy and sad, wondering how long the upcoming months would drag on for me until the return of the light of spring, when I could enjoy being outside in the woods again.
Today, I look out onto grey skies and the light filtering into my window is tenuous and muted. And I celebrate the dark days that come ahead. After so many years, I have finally learned to enjoy the cold’s invitation to stay home, to drink hot tea and sit quietly with people I love. More importantly, I celebrate the invitation to sit in stillness with myself, in my heart. This time of year invites me to slow down, quiet down, turn inward as do the trees, gathering my life force energy from my roots and at my core, instead of putting it out into branches.
Today I light a small, bright candle and sit, observing the flame. This flame echoes the fireplaces of my childhood, into which I stared before falling asleep. It warms me, flickering, even though it does not crackle and throw sparks. It reminds me that, without this still darkness, without the cold, there is no explosion of life and color in spring!