The Soft Light of Lengthening DaysPosted: December 24, 2015
“There is a lesson in these fallow days, a lesson that does not come in frantic motion, but in the soft light of a lengthening day.”
~ Karen Maezen Miller
Storm showers continue outside as flotillas of dark clouds sail in from deep in the Pacific. She is most certainly not pacified today; rather her mood seems dark and stormy, full of strength and courage. As I type these words, occasional thunder can be heard and all of a sudden a furious downpour of perfectly round hail thunders down from high above, ricocheting off the metal roof of the bread oven. The noise increases in pitch as more balls of hail cruise down from deep within clouds and I jump up and head outside to see. From the relative protection of an overhanging roof I watch as the crystalline balls bounce off the deck, careening in all directions. Then as suddenly as it had started to hail, the iceballs metamorphose into falling rain falling originating in those same dark clouds. Its as if an alchemist resides inside the clouds turning ordinary substances into something miraculous.
As I pause and consider this transformation, I consider other miracles in the lore and myths of our culture. What do we mean by the word miracle – something amazing or supernatural? Something hard to believe or an event of great blessing, great gratitude? Or is each moment a miracle in and of itself, one that we seldom notice in our strivings and yearnings for something different than just this? Kaz Tanahashi, Zen teacher and master calligrapher said that, “A moment’s worth of transformation may seem so tiny but that moments add up to large-scale personal transformation. “Our narrow view,” he says, “always misses the wide ripples of a moment.” The wide ripples of small miracles are often overlooked as insignificant or even nonexistent. Oftentimes we don’t even notice them. We run around constantly distracted and distracting and reach the end of our days wondering where all the time has gone.
Let us take the time now in these “fallow days” of winter to slow down, be quiet and pay attention. We recently turned a corner, so to speak, and are now in lengthening days. The days before and after the winter solstice are times of deep quiet, of slowing down. Do you hear it? Can you feel it?
R.D. Lainge said, “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice.” By slowing down and becoming quiet like these deep days of winter, we can notice the small things, the miracles of this moment and by doing so expand our range of what it means to be us. Each moment is a miracle, if we notice it. And like the imperceptible alchemy of water turning into hail and back again to water, so too can our lives be transformed moment by moment, sending wide ripples into the soft light of these lengthening days.