As we move past the winter solstice and are firmly rooted in the season of darkness I find myself turning in to a posture of contemplation, meditation, reflection, and, as always, gratitude. The winter provides a much-needed time for rest, rejuvenation, and quiet. As the soil and grass sleeps, Jonathan and I are able to rest as well! Our first substantial growing season on this hillside brought so much new energy and life to our hearts. The addition of three piglets - who helped us to cultivate and till the hillside and create an environment where more nutritious grasses can take root - brought a new rhythm to our days. Then, when Mocha and Timmy - our dairy cow and beef steer - arrived we really had our hands full! They were our failsafe mowers, and are helping us to maintain open grasslands to continue the diversity of habitat available to all of the members of this land community. Finally, as snows began to settle in, we welcomed a horse, Theodred, to join our cows. He's now part of the mowing squad, and a reminder that there is always room for fun and space for play amid the work that Mocha, Timmy, the pigs, and chickens are engaged in.
We feed hay three times a day, and when the sun sets (around 4:30 now) for the last time and we've fed out the last bale of the day, closed up the chickens and ducks, and patted Muffin (our sow) on the head before she snuggles into her straw palace, we are able to come inside and enjoy three hours of dark and quiet before going to sleep. These hours are filled with (netflix...if we're being honest) time to reconnect with each other without a list of projects in the air between us, to play cards or watch a movie or start a puzzle, and to begin to plan for the coming year. In the evenings, we've been savoring the chances to laugh over the first year's growing pains and successes.
As a spiritual practice, I've been spending some of this evening time meditating on the darkness. This practice feels a lot like a traditional centering prayer, but rather than a mantra or connection to breathing, I build up an image of darkness in my mind....it's surprisingly hard to do! I spend about 20 minutes engaged in this practice (every day would be nice...but let's be real....) and I find that gives me a window of openness when I have the opportunity to settle and let go enough to be present. Most of the time, I'm sitting in a place with lists whizzing through my head, but every so often, there is a moment of encounter. Encounter with the Self that observes the Self and with the image of darkness that I have been creating in my mind's eye.
I hope that you are finding places of rest, soothing, and rejuvenation in this time of stillness in the earth. If you'd like to share your practices, reflect on this one, or share your questions please comment below!