We got some baklava in our mailbox, homemade by our neighbor. I cooked the venison tenderloin that Joe hunted, while he and a friend were building a winterized coop for our chickens.
Later, I baked cookies – the kind made with butter and with raspberry jam in the center – while listening to a Michael Meade CD, The Light in the Dark Times.
It seemed fitting for December 2012 – after the crash of the economy, after Hurricane Sandy, after the horrendous school shootings in Connecticut, and so near the day that the Mayan calendar stopped and some people thought the world was going to end – to read Meade’s thoughts about the opportunities in the darkest times.
Meade believes everyone who enters this world comes in with hidden gold, also known as our natural gifts. It’s our job to find that gold and give it to the world because it brings a kind of richness that doesn’t happen if we hold on to it. “That is the economy of the soul,” he says. And it grows best in dark, slowed down times. “When the finances of the outer world don’t work out, work on the inner finance and a kind of richness can happen,” Meade says.
We thought we could know everything through rational thought, through looking at the light and measuring everything, but we were wrong. Only 4% of the universe can be seen. 96% of the universe is dark matter and dark energy, which is why scientists have taken to using metaphors and quoting poets to try to explain it.
“Work in the invisible world at least as hard as you work in the visible one … You can’t imagine what profit will come!” said the poet Rumi. Creation comes from darkness. Using 9/11 as an example, Meade describes how when we don’t stay in the down-turned darkness long enough for the soul to get what it needs to learn, the dark times will pop back up bigger in some other place.
Although it is the light of the soul we are all looking for, our culture values spirit over soul, Meade says. Spirit seeks to ascend, to reach heights, to be number one and to unify in oneness. Soul favors descent, slowing down, diversity and unity in community. It finds strength in the many rather than the one. It deals with multiplicity and works from the periphery.
Carl Jung has said that maturity is the increasing capacity to hold opposites together. In rough times those that can hold the tension of opposites will grow. “Those who can’t stand the tension will rush to one side or the other, pick up an ideology and argue for that,” Meade says, warning us not to go to naivety or to cynicism during hard times.
As I type this on Christmas Eve morning I realize that it’s the small things that mark the season for me. It’s the baklava in the mailbox, the chicken coop being built, the food the earth provides, the time spent staring at a lit-up tree, the trip down the mountain with a couple of musician friends to serenade a friend in the hospital, the feasting with others on the Solstice, and the impromptu ballet performed by children that night. It’s the simple pleasures that make my life rich, and not the glitter and glitz.