The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory. The death of a friend, an incapacitating illness, or a tragic loss are such times -- times of hopelessness and despair, pain and confusion, when all bearing disappears and the void engulfs everything without mercy. These experiences are the soil in which the Universe plants the seeds of your potential for you to cultivate no matter what, and somehow you do, even in those times when you feel you have nothing left to give and no one to give it to.
Now I see more. The coming and going of the seasons give us more than the springtimes, summers, autumns, and winters of our lives. It reflects the coming and going of the circumstances of our lives like the glassy surface of a pond that shows our faces radiant with joy or contorted with pain. It also shows us our amazing independence from our circumstances. In cold or warmth, light or dark, deprivation or abundance, we can choose to respond with love or react in fear. Who could have dreamed such a choice is possible? When a child dies, we grieve and despair until we can see the change in our lives as a gift instead of a loss. Now millions of us are beginning to see the painful AND the joyful circumstances of our lives as opportunities to expand in love or contract in fear. We can experience anger, jealousy, loss, rage, or resentment without acting on it. We can act in love instead, even while we are immersed in anger, fear, jealousy, or rage. We can choose. We can cultivate care, patience, gratitude, and contentment each time we feel them. We can choose.
Each solstice shows us that we can choose. We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the Universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to Life when each arrives. We have always done that, and we always have. Now we have a new and liberating awareness. We can greet all the experiences of our lives joyfully and use them all wisely.