FAST WISDOM™ NEWSLETTER
By Lonner Holden
The Falling Away: Inside the Winter Solstice
The leaves are mostly gone now. The berries too. My naked Weeping Willow tree came down a few days ago. Too much dead wood clinging to it and its roots threatening my neighbors buried plumbing.
I spent time saying goodbye to this once flourishing rooted friend. As I stood within its affectionate arms, feeling into the inevitability of “farewell” - which is the soil for all of life - I thanked it for its beauty, strength, and service to my life - Weeping Willows are my favorite tree.
As I attended to these words of thanks, a hummingbird landed in the pear tree next to the Willow. It preened itself in the soft rain - a Hummer shower!
A Ruby-Crowned Kinglet landed to feed on insects in the Willow’s bark. A Black-Eyed Junco zips in and moves along the Willow’s limbs. A Bewick’s Wren joins in. I feel a sadness of how the birds will no longer be nourished by the Willow.
Yet, the feeling from the birds is different. It is as if the birds have joined me to comfort me in saying goodbye to my cherished Willow. I thank the tree for its life, its beauty, for its slender tendrils who search for water, reminding me of my own yearning for the source of life, too.
I feel into the lasting of all living things, even as they change form - much of this Willow will become firewood, some woven into baskets, the rest mulch - which will harbor new life to create the soil upon which we all depend.
In this ethos of impermanence raindrops bounce off ivy leaves who wink at me as if to address my sadness, chanting “All is well, all is well, all is well.”
Later that day, I returned home to find the tree gone. The larger branches and limbs had been cut and stacked where the tree had once laid down its cool blanket of shade on hot Summer days. One branch was left for a friend to make me a basket. I noticed that in the center of every new log the core had rotted out - these huge limbs were ready to break and crash onto the fence, the house, maybe even people. The necessity and timeliness to help this tree move on becomes vivid.
I also noticed the huge opening to the sky which was previously completely obscured by the tree’s branches. A sense of possibility emanates out of this empty space. I felt a lightness and a rightness of the decision.
A couple of days later, I am inspired to clean out my vitamin drawer, cull through a stack of extra blankets, and ready a few boxes for the thrift shop.
My quiet reflections seem to naturally go to reviewing what this last year has been, what it has meant, what changes occurred, and which changes wanted to happen that didn’t.
Something about this darkest time of year calls to take away what is no longer needed, wanted or right for us. Sometimes it is obsolete stuff, sometimes commitments, sometimes relationships, sometimes trees. In this space where our part of the planet is experiencing cyclical dormancy in the darkening days, what does not bring us light and vibrant life presents itself as ready to go.
The Winter Solstice takes off its shoes, softly and silently walks barefoot into our most practical and personal interiors and conducts the inventory we best participate in if we are to know renewal of our spirit and purpose.
So, in all the melody of the season, with winter songs and winter candles punctuating your life, take a moment and listen into what no longer serves you. If you are as sentimental as I (I hope not!), a little ritual can help serve as hospice to feeling into the rightness of saying goodbye.
Giving yourself, and supporting friends to also give themselves the gift of emptiness - where possibility can be restored - is accessible and very affordable, (with no parking hassles required!). Maybe a good friend or friends getting together with the intention of exploring this for each other can be supportive, too. For me, it was my bird neighbors on a rainy afternoon in the Winter.
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