Life is a Circle Not a Line


Spring is a wonderful time to talk about awakenings. We see all around us the evidence that there is life springing forth from what has appeared to be death and lifelessness.


Most of us, at some point in our lives, go through a period when everything we once believed about the world, about life, about our purpose, about faith, or about our place in this Universe comes up for a re-evaluation.


We may look at our life circumstances and notice that our beliefs don't seem to match up with what we have been taught or led to believe. Maybe we experience a death of some kind, of a loved one, a relationship, a job, or any number of life-altering experiences. Maybe someone lets us down. Maybe we let ourselves down. Maybe our faith lets us down.


Some call this a dark night of the soul.


We could equate this with the experience of winter.


Yes, I am well aware that there are parts of the world that don't really have the experience of winter. The weather tends to be pleasant most of the time throughout the year, or perhaps the weather is unpleasant most of the time. I wouldn't relish living in Antartica where it is cold all the time. Others would not relish living in the heat of the equator belt all of the time. However, even in places where the weather tends to be somewhat consistent, there is the experience of changes in the atmoshere, in the weather patterns.


When we come into the Earth realm through the miracle of birth, we go through a life altering and probably shocking transformation. We have been living in this warm, moist environment where all of our needs were met. If our mothers were aware and welcoming our presence, we probably felt her love and received a consistent diet of whatever she was ingesting without any effort on our part. If she was not relishing our presence, we felt that too. However, at the moment of birth, all of a sudden, we are thrust out into an unfamiliar world. There is blinding light, pain and excrutiating fear. We immediately are put in the position of needing to take a breath, something we had not yet needed to do. We may feel the need to pee or poop. We are probably cold and we hear chatter and the drone of medical equipment or other new and unfamiliar sounds.


As we proceed through life, we may experience similar life-altering moments. They may be the result of an experience over which we have no control, such as the loss of a loved one or a job or a relationship. Or, it may just happen organically as we grow and evolve as a soul. Suddenly, the beliefs and understandings we have grown up with or adopted may no longer hold water or show themselves to be somewhat flawed.


In Shamanic teachings there is the understanding that life is circular, not linear. If we equate our lives to the idea of a circle rather than a line, we can see that we go through cycles. Many native tribes ascribe our lives to the symbology of the four directions. East symbolizes new life, new beginnings, spring. South symbolizes summer, a time of growth and productivity. West symbolizes fall and the time to release and let go. North symboles winter and a time of rest, contemplation, looking back on all we have learned and gaining wisdom.


As we go through life, we are constantly navigating the seasons of our lives. The important thing to remember is to keep going. Don't stop and get stuck in one of the directions.


As we awaken spiritually, we may find that preceding the awakening was a seemingly long period of darkness. Winter. All that we had experienced up until winter no longer had life to us. We may have experienced a very satisfying summer and then we began to notice a shift. The flowers in our life began to fade. The air had a chill and the grass began to lose its soft texture and green hue. The changing of the seasons in our lives may have come gradually or as unexpected as a blizzard in October (depending on your place on the map!) Walking barefoot was no longer pleasurable. We found ourselves needing to bundle up as the chill of the air no longer invigorated us, but rather created a contraction in our gut. All there was to do was contemplate the events that led up to this dark night and reexamine all we had felt, or understood, or believed. Everything we knew came up for review.


Spiritual awakenings are like that. They are so often preceded by dark cold nights when nothing felt real.


I was recently asked if it is possible to have a spiritual awakening without the dark night of the soul. I am not sure it is. We are on this wheel of life, circling through the seasons of our lives. Winter precedes spring. That is the cycle of life. The dark nights may be short-lived or they may seem to last forever. But without it, we would not emerge from that darkness a new version of ourselves.


If we find ourselves sailing through life constantly in spring or summer, we may not have a need to go deeper.


What is that old saying?