“May the Great Sun dazzle your eyes by day and the Great Bear watch over you by night.” Edward Abbey
On a recent ski out back, I crossed paths with a bear, at least his tracks. Steady, unswerving, the bear tracks traversed the snow-covered meadow. They were old prints, just gray-shaded divots in the brilliant white snow, the pigeon-toed, wide-straddled gait suggesting he was a big ol’ griz. The tracks disappeared into the thick of the woods, just where he had emerged the spring before. The grizzly was following his seasonal rhythm, moving into his den, headed into hibernation for another year.
The meadow was still, no wind, with the quiet of an early winter day, vibrant life withdrawing as fall passed into memory. Standing by the path of the bear’s annual retreat, standing within that meadow’s stillness, I gave thanks to be present just there, just then. In a year of global turmoil, sorrow, chaos, and doubt, I felt blessed to be with the natural rhythms that endure.
Now, as even more ancient rhythms turn the seasons, I hope that we, the human species, will move into the future with wisdom and grace, acting in such a way as to allow the natural rhythms of the earth and all of its life – butterfly to grizzly to human and more – to continue, with peace and joyful existence for all. And that you, as light grows in our days, will also find peace and a moment of quiet gratitude, perhaps in the presence of some non-human who has come to grace your days.