I’ve been supporting some people through very challenging times recently. At the same time, I have also been experiencing some very real challenges; more emotional and psychological than anything else.
Sometimes, no matter the process or the theory, the challenges just keep mounting. The clouds just keep descending and so I, or we, have to take a new perspective in order to make sense of our experience in the world.
Yesterday, as I was walking back to my hotel room, I was reflecting on the seemingly unavoidable suffering in the human experience, of how remarkable, but how scary and unsettling life can be at times, and then I thought of it in another way:
Just as there are seasons in nature, we also have seasons in life.
Some of us are in winter right now. It can be a dark, cold and unforgiving place. A place of confusion and seemingly eternal suffering. It can appear that there is no end to the darkness. Even when we have one of those beautiful crisp clear days we get in the UK, in a flash we can be plunged back into the gloom and depths of winter; the sun hidden from sight again for days on end.
However, just because we can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it’s not there. And the clouds do come and go, eventually. This is the truth. Eventually, as surely as autumn turns to winter, winter in turn releases its grasp on us and we find new shoots and life in the hardened and seemingly desolate ground beneath us.
In the old days (and perhaps still today) people used to pray for protection and guidance through the seasons, especially the long dark winters. They’d build fires, gather with others for love and support, or hunker down and hibernate until the inevitable thaw returned and their job of planting for a new season and harvest was upon them.
They would light fires, tell stories of hope, come closer to one another to share physical and emotional warmth through the challenging times. Squirrels would have buried nuts to keep them going through the winter; bears would be underground sleeping through the worst of it and all around, nature would find a way to survive and make it through to the new season.
We all have our winters. It can seem like it drags on, indeed we can make it drag on ourselves, but ‘this too shall pass’. I know there is a great deal more to my winter. In fact, there’s a great deal more to life than we can ever imagine. It’s there for all of us – beyond our thoughts – no matter what season we are in.
It can help to see past the seasons, beyond the clouds and up into the unfathomable reaches of the Universe. Thinking about how vast the Universe is and how small I am, how small we are, I find it humbling and somehow comforting to know where I live. I sometimes have this experience of zooming back in from the beauty and enormity of space. All of a sudden I have a very different sense of myself and my connectedness to the cosmos. I can trust the clouds in my thinking will pass in time, and gain a whole new perspective and sense of purpose in my life. I hope you can too!