The wheel of the year

For weeks, beau­ti­ful blue flow­ers dom­i­nat­ed the park oppo­site our house. But now that I final­ly get around to tak­ing a pic­ture, most of them have already fin­ished flow­er­ing. Large teasel plants are start­ing to take their place.

Some­times I feel like I should be flow­er­ing all the time. Like I should be ent­hou­si­as­tic about work, hap­pi­ly com­mit­ted to the eco-vil­lage, hav­ing fun with my child, all the time.

Look­ing at the teasel, I real­ize that’s not the way it works.

When you’re out­side, and not inside the rec­tan­gle of your lap­top or phone screen, almost every­thing is a cir­cle. The set­ting sun, the full moon that rose so bril­liant­ly last night. And the sea­sons, which com­plete the cir­cle of life every year.

The four sea­sons can be sub­di­vid­ed, so that you get 8 fes­ti­vals: the Wheel of the Year. It’s a nat­ur­al and mil­len­nia-old way to orga­nize and give mean­ing to the year. The church cal­en­dar still con­tains traces of these festivals.

Last month we cel­e­brat­ed the longest day of the year in the eco vil­lage. And now we are mak­ing plans to cel­e­brate Lam­mas, the grain har­vest festival.

Cel­e­brat­ing the sea­sons makes me more aware of the cir­cle of life.  Every sea­son car­ries its own end­ing, and in the mid­dle of sum­mer you can already feel the approach of autumn. There is no need to always be hap­py; in order to farm, land must occa­sion­al­ly lie fal­low. There is a time for every­thing, says Eccle­si­astes. For joy, but also for loss and dying. They are insep­a­ra­ble, as Kahlil Gibran writes in The Prophet:

Your joy is your sor­row unmasked.
And the self­same well from which your laugh­ter ris­es was often­times filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deep­er that sor­row carves into your being, the more joy you can con­tain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spir­its the very wood that was hol­lowed with knives?
When you are joy­ous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has giv­en you sor­row that is giv­ing you joy.
When you are sor­row­ful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weep­ing for that which has been your delight.