Winter can remind us at times how close we still are to bare survival. Body and mind contract in the cold freeze, and our priorities resonate more with our basic necessities: warmth, enough food, and shelter.
There are ways to meet winter that go beyond necessity, however. My friends have been talking to me recently about me about the Danish concept of “Hygge” (pronounced “hooga”), sometimes translated as “coziness.” Relaxing in front of a winter fire with a warm cup of hot chocolate and some good friends on a cold day is one form of this, as is creating a lifestyle that exemplifies a feel-good appreciation (and creation) of situations that can help us feel deeply at home.
As cool as Hygge might be, however, the frosty shadows, early darkness, and sense of bitter death that winter brings are powerful messengers, and they can only be voided at the peril of having them rise up unexpectedly from our shadows. They remind me that “Hygge” is just another dream, unless it serves to connect me to the source of warmth and coziness: the freedom that never dies because it is eternally present.
Winter leads us to the root cellar, moves us to dig down to the root, to hunker in. But what if there is no root, or what if we ARE the root, but for some reason do not see this? This is the “root” that goes so deeply that it dissolves the separation between self and other and allows for the acceptance and appreciation of all the seasons. For within unicity, multiplicity abounds! Each wave is both a cresting individual, as well as the great ocean, a simultaneous symphony of one and many.
As I am blessed to witness more and more winters in my life, I am finding that people and places of “long ago” have become more present than ever, and in such a deep sweetness. My parents, grandparents, teachers, and childhood friends remain present in the in and out breath of every day. And as I see more and more seasons, the qualities and behaviors of these beings that once bothered me becomes less and less significant. Perhaps judgments, grudges, and the like are necessary during certain movements of our lives, but holding them is a useless burden that distorts the vision of oneness. For, in the end, love alone remains.
Allowing the seasons to mellow our sense of “All of my relations” can lead to an ever-expanding appreciation of everyone and everything, as manifestations of the rootless root of Open, Loving Space. What then is our work, our real work? To celebrate, acknowledge, appreciate this wonder. There is no struggle against the cold and dark here, for it has its own unique medicine. And the mantra that is born from this is “Wow” (“Wonder of Wonder”).