The Necessity of Winter

Landing back in the harshness of winter and the even harsher reality of the U.S. recession was nothing short of a brutal reentry after three weeks of being blissfully cocooned in South Africa. Instead of going on about our joyful days in Cape Town and the surrounding area, I’ll post a few new pics on the photo page so you can see for yourself. I’d rather take this opportunity to dive right into the state of confusion and suffering in the here and now—a very harsh reality for a lot of people.

Along with most of you, I know a number of people who have lost their jobs and many more who have lost their nest eggs and fortunes (both modest and whopping). I even received the shocking news that one friend took his own life over the holidays. The only way that I can make sense of it and ensure that he and others in similar despair do not die in vain is to point out that they are reflecting the dire consequences of our social values.

The extreme panic that would lead one to deploy death as his or her only option betrays much about the social structures we’ve been idealizing. It reveals what our group values really are, and what really motivates our choices. Yes, it is high time that the walls of over-consumption and selfishness come crumbing down! While it’s never comfortable to experience enormous shifts as we now are, the chaos, fear, confusion, panic, and suffering are all part of a necessary crumbling of social and corporate structures that no longer serve our greatest good.

Change is a funny thing. People often say they want to be healthier, happier, spend more time with their family, be more creative, etc., but unless the old structures that prohibit our attainment of these goals are dismantled, we will be blocked from living these ideals. So, if we want change, we need to allow change to happen within and around us. We can’t put a new dress on top of our old sweats and then go to a fancy dinner. We can’t grow our adult teeth without first losing our baby teeth. We can’t live on our own without first moving out of our parents’ place. Change requires and begets change. We must leave some things behind forever, and never look back.

Our country has overwhelmingly supported our new president’s message of change. Change is what we wished for, and now here change comes. But in order for the new structures of hope and healing to arise, there has to be some demolition. If well directed and not feared, intelligent change can give rise to improved systems.

I encourage you to make friends with this changing world and remember that the tearing away of the old structures that supported over-consumption and selfishness will make way for more mature, mutually supportive structures. Change is the great law of life—after we build this new structure, an even better one should emerge after that—never stopping to stagnate, as stagnation is the seat of deterioration.

Pain persists when we try to shove new structures into old ones, insisting that they will fit, instead of adjusting to the natural evolutionary growth. In his time, Christ warned against resisting change by pointing out that one would never put new wine into old wineskins.

The same holds true for how to feed and care for our bodies. As we learn that the old ways of consuming food and drink are not life-supporting, let’s stop trying to shove the principles of our evolved detox lifestyle into our old lifestyle box. Trying to make this new knowledge conform to the deteriorating (albeit widely accepted) nutritional structures will only wear us down. Let’s not put our new wine into old bottles. Through this phase, however long it may last, let’s remember that the falling away of the old is as much a part of the lifecycle as leaves falling off trees in autumn. As we allow the old to fall away, we can expect a new and more beautiful paradigm to replace it.

It is appropriate that we heed this message of change in the midst of a brutal Northeastern winter because, like winter, this painful stage is deceptively beneficial. Beneath the ice-cold struggles, the seeds of revival are taking root. We will see the fruits of this season in seasons to come. We may not have a harmonious new world in place this April—it could take many months and even years for the seedlings of our deepest desires for a more life-generating society to spring their tender leaves. But, it will happen.

Yes, winter will eventually turn to spring, and when it does, it will be the most marvelous spring we’ve ever experienced. We will live with more harmony, intelligence, and beauty in this magnificent garden that we call Earth.

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