The Quickening

photo credit: Thatcher Steele-Maley

An ease has washed over me so suddenly that I can’t help wondering how and why it has arrived.

Maybe it is a by-product of the rising light at dawn arriving earlier each morning. Perhaps it is a result of the rising light in the national mood. Maybe it is due to the increased volume and variety of birdsong in the field. Perhaps it is the relief of reading that Covid-19 cases are beginning to steadily fall. Maybe it is simply the echo of Amanda Gorman’s poem reminding me that “there is always light. If only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.” 

I try to acknowledge, notice, and appreciate it without looking too closely. I don’t want to scare it away. But, Oh! How I do want to revel in it! After months of tension in my body and constriction in my heart, I feel an ease arriving. It’s just around the corner, close enough that its edges touch mine, my sigh melting into the fertile silence that surrounds it. Winter’s grip is releasing.

The self-care that felt like such a chore in the last few months when cold, darkness, fear, and anxiety presided has become joyful again. Seemingly overnight, my own practices of self-care, anchored by my spiritual practices, have moved from my to-do list back to where they truly belong, as simple habits of body, heart, and mind. I cannot pinpoint when they became chores, to-do list tasks that barely offered satisfaction when completed and shame or frustration when they were undone. As to-do list tasks, I am only going through the motions. I plod along with the hope that my good intentions will be enough to see me through until the spell of darkness breaks and the awareness that maintaining motion is vitally important. As a habit of body, heart and mind, caring for my self — body, mind, heart ,and spirit — is no longer something to do. It is simply a way of being, my way of being. 

The season is now turning and my being turns with it. With ease, I settle back into the familiar rhythms of movement and writing, prayer and contemplation. I greet the sun as it rises. By 7 am, I am full — full of possibility, full of hope, full of ideas, full of peace. And I may need a nap before the day is done.

I recognize the seasonal pattern. This is the Quickening, half-way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. With the snow gently falling, I know that winter is not done. I welcome its invitation to go slowly, to be watchful, to bundle up when I go out and snuggle in when I get home. And, with the light steadily rising, I know that spring is coming. I welcome its invitation to make ready, to gather seeds, to raise my face and hands to the sky and feel my feet firmly on the ground.

May we celebrate the gifts of both the departing and the arriving seasons.

May we honor both the slowing and the quickening.

May we trust that the balance surrounding us also dwells within us.