Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Which Wolf Will I Feed?

Today marks the longest darkness of the year. With the Winter Solstice, winter begins in all its bite and gloom and sense of death, where I live, its barren trees and frost-burnt landscape, shades of charcoal and brown as far as I can see.

This morning, as I look out on naked trees and gray sky during a break in a week-long rain, I feel the weight of the Winter Solstice on my shoulders. What it deprives me of is important to me: sunshine, warmth, the ability to walk sleeveless and barefoot in my garden, the joy of living in a fertile landscape. It will rain on Christmas, says the forecast, and the unrelenting rain has begun to cause problems around my county.

But then, with my second cup of coffee, I remember an epiphany I once had during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting:

My attitude makes the difference between peace and unhappiness.

There's a Native American legend about two wolves. A grandfather tells his grandson that two wolves fight within him, one full of evil emotions, and one full of good. "Which wolf will win?" asks the grandson. The grandfather replies, "The one you feed."

The same message can be said many different ways, but the point is the same. First, my thoughts govern how I feel, and second, I have the power to change my mind - to feed a different wolf! The process, in the example of winter, looks like this:

The Winter Solstice is the longest darkness of the year. Yes, but from this point on, the hours of daylight will lengthen every day! The winter landscape looks dead, yes, but the life force is simply resting, as all living things must do. Sleep gives me strength to exert the energy of living. And the rain? Rain is the Great Nourishment of the earth. It hydrates the cells of our land, feeds our oceans, helps fuel our climates, awakens the sleeping seeds in the earth. Rain is the Lifespring.

All is well. Earth's cycles of rest and replenishment are in motion as they needs must be. God, or Gaia, however you name that power or life source, continues to provide for the needs of the planet, and the creatures living on it, like you and me.


After a three-year drought that turned to dust the riverbed,
today the manna from heaven falls on the surface of the soil,

Which laps it neatly as a cat. The pores of leaves open
like mouths to drink it. The shrubbery shivers with raindrops,

The pine needles quiver, the brave narcissus bow their heads.
Rain toots on the roof like a piccolo. A sigh of satisfaction

Escapes the mouth of the ground. Roots hum as their veins swell,
and brown water begins to pool in the riverbed. Small puddles

Rise in the low spots. Slowly they reach for their neighbors,
a trickle builds, they link, and the river’s muddy blood awakens


Speaking of rain, here's a vintage rain song on youTube by the folksinger Melanie, who performed it at Woodstock (where it rained). If you're like me and you can't catch all the words, lyrics are right beneath.


Monkey Man said...

Very profound. I will put this one in the bank.

The Bug said...

I was having the same argument with myself this morning driving to work in the dark. We're kicking off cold & snow & dark & yuck! But wait - the days are going to get longer. Concentrate on that!

Love the rain poem. Water is so vital & annoying - I'll remember the wolf the next time I'm getting groceries in the rain :)

Rachel Fox said...

We saw the lunar eclipse this morning over a snowy scene. A pretty special (if bloody cold) solstice here! Though pretty bad if you're trying to get anywhere as our transport system is poor and cannot cope with snow and cold! Luckily we're just home.

Brian Miller said...

nice...love that story of the wolves...and your poem...bring on the rains....

Syd said...

Thanks for this. We were on the same journey today with our posts. The wolf story is a great one. Merry Christmas to you.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

So glad you made this awesome reflection!!!! :)

Merry Christmas!!!

Magpie said...

I love this date because it is my daughter's birthday! I love the short day because I feel the earth slowing down and beginning it's long winter rest. I love this year especially, because of the full moon...something I always enjoy.
I love you tale of the two wolves...good thoughts.

RNSANE said...

I wish I had read your poem before we drove home from West Sac on Christmas night in a torrential downpour! I wouldn't have felt so negative about it!

Marla said...

Just what I needed today. How do you always know?