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Turning the Wheel of the Year

Our culture does not commonly celebrate the winter solstice by honoring our fear of the dark, or by performing ritual to take responsibility for the rebirth of the light. We may regard the occasion as a metaphor, but we carefully separate our actual beliefs from the physical events of the world. We regard this distance as intellectually superior; and the gut participation of the earth-centered, indigenous cultures ... as primitive.

So we lose touch with the deeper meaning of the word "faith." We think we have faith in something if our minds accept it as factual. We have faith the sun will rise tomorrow, faith Spring will come. We say "I believe in" this or that. But we are thinking, not feeling with the heart. Faith of the heart means loyalty to what we care about: we participate in it, we choose and work for it. This faith inspires, sustains and nourishes us; it shapes our lives and gives them meaning.

I've attended Neo-Pagan solstice events, where celebrants try to evoke a primitive fear of the dark, in order to feel more joy at the return of the light. But it never quite worked for me. I think for us in this age, more appropriate is identifying what's really important for us. Finding our faith. Feeling into and beyond the metaphor, beyond our intellectualization. What is the darkness for us? What do we fear? In the face of our fear, how can we stay loyal to what we care about, affirming our values by putting energy into them, acting on them?

A darkness for me, is my growing disability. I can do little work in the garden. I cringe when I see the weeds. I avoid going out — and then I feel cut off from my roots. I hunger for the connection the garden gives me to the Earth.

So I choose to do what I can. Gardening is always a juggling act, a search for balance, an effort to keep grounded in the midst of conflicting factors as fickle as the weather — or emotions.

I believe we are the very Earth, the part of Gaia who thinks and chooses. I have faith in the beauty of the Earth as the way she calls us home. I believe in gardening as a meeting of the culture and the Earth, a way to engage the dilemmas of physical existence. It's not like I can stop being a gardener.

© Copyright 2005 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 16 December 2005

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