Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice (Deng Ming-Dao)

A homeless man dies in the gutter.
A tree cracks in the cold:
A shocking sound.
At the winter solstice, the day is shortest of all and night is longest. It can also be the time of bitter cold. The wind blows with a frigid ferocity, cutting all before it. Snow and ice become deadly. Those who are homeless die of exposure. Even the mightiest of trees can split from the drop in temperature.

The sound of a tree snapping is a sudden slap.

The horrors, the tragedies that this nadir brings! Winter tortures the world with icy whips, and those who are weak are ground beneath its glacial heels. Sometimes, we dare not even lament those who die in the onslaught of winter, in fear that the tears will freeze upon our faces. But we see, and hear. Huddling closer to the fire, we vow to survive.

No matter how affected we are by misfortune, we must remember that this is the lowest turn of the wheel. Things cannot go forever downward. There are limits to everything—even the cold, and the darkness, and the wind, and the dying.

They call this the first day of winter, but actually it is the beginning of winter's death. From this day on, we can look forward to warming and brightening.


Source: 365 Tao by Deng Ming-Dao; December 21 entry. Given to me by a dear friend in Eastport (Annapolis), Maryland, this has become a favorite book with unexpected wisdom which Rebecca and I tap into on a daily basis. The winter solstice is also Rebecca's birthday.

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