The snow is beautiful. No doubt about it. Right now, looking out my window here in the northeast United States, snow is falling. Steadily, flake by flake, it just keeps piling up. It settles on the tiniest tree branches after floating gently down. Ahhh…beautiful. Well, it’s beautiful to look at from my nice warm room, anyway.
The birds gather at my feeder early on days like this. The little sparrows fight amongst themselves for the sunflower seeds and grain. To them, the snow is a challenge. The search for food and shelter is all-encompassing. They may or may not survive the winter. They may or may not survive the night. They are doing the best they can under the circumstances, and I do my best to help them out by refilling the feeder.
Underneath the big maple tree sleeps a chipmunk. In warm weather, I see it skittering from one of its burrow entrances to another. But this time of year, it dreams of acorns while in a state of sluggish torpor down in its underground home. To emerge too soon into the upper world would mean near certain death, either by freezing or by becoming food for the occasional hawk that circles overhead. It is far better off hunkering down, sleeping, and emerging when the ground warms up in the spring.
When it comes to life’s traumatic events, are you a sparrow or a chipmunk?
Do you carry on like the sparrow, come what may, trusting the universe to provide what it takes to get through the dark night of the soul?
Or do you retreat within yourself to a safe place, protecting your psyche from experiencing the trauma head-on, knowing your own limits?
All of us, at some point in our lives, face some sort of personally traumatic event. At times, we suffer a collective trauma, like the people of Haiti did after the earthquake last year, or like the people of Afghanistan and Arizona are suffering right now.
Both the sparrow and chipmunk approaches are valid, for different people under various circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all right way to bear up under the strain of personal or collective catastrophe. What is helpful is to respond mindfully and consciously, recognizing your sparrow-self and purposefully seeking out that cosmic birdseed. Or realizing that your chipmunk-self will have to emerge from the burrow someday. One can’t live forever hidden from the world.
Mindfulness. Self-awareness. Peace amidst the storm.
The snow still falls. Tonight will be another cold one. But it won’t last forever. Nothing does.
Photo Credit: flickr user AMagill at www.creativecommons.org