The Paradox of the Season

This time of year always seems to be marked by a study in opposites.
 
On the one hand, there is the aliveness, the awakeness, the joy and celebration that comes with the holiday time. Twinkle lights hanging on trees, caroling music playing everywhere (and I do mean everywhere), and a sense of people letting go of their cares and woes for snippets of time.
 
On the other hand, in the Northern Hemisphere, we are descending deeper into the dark as we head toward the shortest day of the year on December 21. A time that pulls on us to get more quiet, listen more carefully, tend to the tender. A time when completions and memories of loss can fill the air, a solemn backdrop to the bright, jingling bells.
 
Add to this the additional layers of paradox punctuating the larger world:
 
Wars raging:raging wars while humanitarian efforts are being insisted upon by loving humans that can’t abide the atrocity.
 
Democracy being challenged by the very people that should be upholding it while conscientious people continue to march, vote, champion equality and human rights.
 
Mother Nature angry and hot flashing, mournful and weeping, while countless scientists and environmentalists stand up for her each and every day.
 
Respect being shoved off the stage while good folk still open doors for their elders, hold the hands of the dying, remember to say please and thank you.
 
Paradox is the crossroads where we are all firmly standing right now.
 
Sure, we can turn to face the direction that feels best to us, refuse to let the tension tear us in two. Rest into a place that only brushes with the hot edges of all the flash points.
 
In fact, I would say that’s imperative. That we turn toward the sun as much as possible.
 
However, it’s equally important that we not ignore the shadow cast as we turn toward that sun. That, as conscious beings, we acknowledge the extremes, the presence of all that is not so pretty. And the truth that opposites can occupy the same moment, the same breath.
 
This is part of our practice. To learn how to stand at this crossroads without disintegrating under the weight of the fallout as extremes collide. To bolster ourselves with pliable hearts and minds so that we can stretch and reshape as the storms blow through and the silence settles heavy in our bones.
 
I’m no longer inclined to use the phrase that keeps popping up these days (and that I used a mere 3 years ago):
We Were Made For These Times.
 
Because I’m not sure I believe that today, in this moment.
 
I’d say this instead:
We are capable of living in these times.
 
A capability realized by our willingness to be unmade and remade a few times over in these upcoming months and years. A skill developed by standing in the center of the extremes, allowing them to teach us some things, insist that we not cling to what we have used as tools thus far in our lifetime.
 
Not that we should toss all of our tools out the window. That would be irresponsible.
 
However, we’re being challenged to find new uses for our tools, reforge them as needed, perhaps apply a tool that used to be appointed for one thing, but will now become the new tool for the next conundrum.
 
I think of all the times in my life when I was faced with a project and didn’t have quite the right tool to unscrew that tiny, weird-shaped bolt. Or when I didn’t have the perfect region-specific spice for that new stew recipe.
 
Same thing here. We’re being asked to get creative. To go out in the garage and look for that funny-shaped thing that might, just might, make the bolt turn. Or go over to our neighbor’s house and ask if they might, just might, have a spice that we don’t keep in our cabinet.
 
To leave our comfy lounge chair and remember what it’s like to flex unseen, forgotten muscles in service to meeting the teaching moment that has been placed squarely in front of us.
 
This is how we’re going to live with the tension of today’s (and tomorrow’s and the next day’s) paradox. The agitation of all that is pulling us in every direction.
 
For that agitation is a catalyst. The thing that is shaking us awake in a way that we can’t ignore without consequence to the soul. Asking us to carefully evaluate what we stand for and how we are going to stand for it. What tools we will wield and how we will wield them.
 
Sometimes choosing to close our eyes and trust the feel of the thing, rather than what our mind tells us should or should not be happening.
 
:
 
So now, coming full circle to the paradox of this holiday time. Because that’s a good place to start: our daily lives.
 
Standing in the space between breaths, the nano-second pause before the next task, where we might examine how and what we’re choosing and seek to relate to the paradox, rather than shoving it into a box (a box usually held by Pandora, by the way).
 
Each day, we are presented with so many choice points, moments that we can ignore, excise from our awareness, cover up with temporary distraction.

Or instead, we can lean in, develop and strengthen new muscle. Learn more about our tendencies to react from fear, lack of presence or a tremulous relationship with faith.
 
In this way, we move away from “just coping” and “barely hanging in there” into a space that is more grounded and resourced, all because we are willing to meet paradox with eyes wide open.

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2 Responses to The Paradox of the Season

  1. Allan Hardman February 2, 2024 at 5:42 pm #

    You are awesome….in a quiet sort of way. Thank you for your service to the new dream.

    Allan

    • Kimberly Jonas February 13, 2024 at 9:18 am #

      Ah, Allan. Grateful for your note. May we all continue to be of service to the new dream – love that phrase, thank you!

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