Equinox

Today’s post serves a dual purpose: My daily Slice of Life Story Challenge and Spiritual Journey Thursday, organized by my friend Margaret Simon on the first Thursday of the month. Thank you, Margaret, for the invitation to host.

I chose to write around the theme of “balance.”

Not necessarily what you may think…

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It’s almost here.

Spring. The equinox.

A balance of light and dark in the world, or “equal night.”

My thinking radiates in a number of metaphorical directions here but I’ll begin with the moment I was at school grappling with a new data reporting system that I have to teach to colleagues. I logged in and discovered this message: Alternate Data Entry for Dark Period.

Dark Period?

It has the sound of a span in history, like it belongs in the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period, the current one in which we live, geologically speaking (“current” meaning over 11, 000 years old, for the record). As if it can be marked in time like the Ice Age or at least the Dark Ages.

Dark Period.

All it means, apparently, is the time when the data reporting system is shut down to be updated. It’s tech housecleaning. During the Dark Period, no additional data entry can occur, until everything is verified and balanced.

The words stuck with me, though.

Many would say we are living in a Dark Period now. It’s an era of strife, vitriol, backlash. An age of ever-increasing concerns over mental health. Over health in general—the coronavirus.

And at the heart of the darkness is fear.

A. Roger Ekirch writes in At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past: “Night was man’s first necessary evil, our oldest and most haunting terror. Amid the gathering darkness and cold, our prehistoric forebears must have felt profound fear … that one morning the sun might fail to return.” He goes on to say that many psychologists believe that our early ancestors feared not the dark itself but harm befalling them in the dark (for it was an unlit world at night) and over time night became synonymous with danger.

Fear leads to anger and anxiety. In the dark, things don’t look as they should; they’re distorted.

What’s the balance?

Now we’re back to the equinox, metaphorically.

Light. Day. The assurance that there’s still good working in the world, undoing harm. Think of the destruction of Australia and the human involvement in deliberately setting bushfires. Then think of soldiers in the Australian army, lined up in rows, cuddling and nursing koalas when off duty. Then apply it to people suffering around our globe …

We are our own greatest enemy and helpmeet. We all hang in the balance of these: despair and hope, destruction and edification, hurt and healing.

In The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Patricia A. McKillip describes a monstrous creature like “a dark mist” who embodies “the fear men die of.” The novel is about learning how to live and love in a different world.

That would mean overcoming the dark, the fear.

Incidentally, in a strange balance, the current virus causing so much alarm shares its name with the crown of the sun.

And, speaking of the sun, here’s the secret of the equinox, why it’s not really equal: There’s actually more day than night.

More light. Literally.

And figuratively, it has nothing to do with moving around the sun and everything to do with moving the human heart.

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. CC BY

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Dear fellow Spiritual Journey Thursday sojourners: Please click the link to add your post to the “party”:

https://fresh.inlinkz.com/party/f941589ea3ed4e83be8dd519044d3bfd

21 thoughts on “Equinox

  1. Light versus dark is the defining theme these days…and nights. The word “battle” is being used more frequently–battling misinformation, battling inequality, battling misogyny. And yet there is story after story of acts of kindness and hope, light overcoming dark.
    I love how you pull quotes from nonfiction and fiction alike, especially as I was just espousing the importance of fiction reading to a parent yesterday, the need to fight battles in an imaginary world in order to learn how to handle the real monsters. Thanks for this pensive post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for these words, Chris. I couldn’t agree with you more about the need for a balance (key word!) of reading nonfiction and fiction. The latter invokes limitless problem-solving possibilities. Although I confess the quotes were chosen only because they came to mind as I wrote. There’s also a Cyclops-type character in Forgotten Beasts who gets hit in his singular eye with a rock; his eye turned inward and he “died of what he saw there.” It haunts me to this day; to say it’s “mindfulness” is no play on words. I couldn’t figure out how to get it into the post but you just flung wide the door here in comments! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I love how you spun your thoughts one thread and then the next and next into a metaphor of what so many of us feel right now — and, in the Christian season of lent! Wow. I’m not sure I yet feel in balance. But, with the coming light, I know it’s possible and I reach for it.
    I am posting today for Spiritual Thursday with ‘A Short Story of Falling,’ by Alice Oswald. She brings beauty and balance together. https://awordedgewiselindamitchell.blogspot.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda, for this lovely response and tying the post to
      Lent. Symbolically a dark period if ever there was one, involving sacrifice and seeking to restore spiritual balance. Reaching – and finding. Yes.

      Like

  3. “…everything to do with moving the human heart.” Oh, how I love this post. So happy that you chose to host our SJFT group, but struggling mightily with another March balance post.

    Like

    • Thank you so much, Ramona, and I am delighted to be part of the group. About “balance” — I heard a presenter say last week that “balance is a tricky word, because it’s used to describe things that aren’t balanced.” Code for “reading wars.” I considered using it here but it didn’t quite fit … feel free to borrow, if it helps… 🙂

      Like

  4. Thought provoking post! Thank you so much. Looking inside ourselves… which is definitely a Lenten focus. This is really lovely. Thanks for putting it all together.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We certainly are in a dark period. It is hard to watch the news. Between the vitriol of our politics and COVID-19, the news is horrific. Add in tornadoes and other catastrophes and it feels like the world is falling apart.
    I look forward to a new season. May it bring better health and balance to all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, Stacey. The harder things get, the more I think about how much we all need each other. Kids once asked me which Harry Potter spell I’d choose, if I could choose only one, and I said ‘healing’. How the world needs it .. speaking of which: the orthopedist said today that my foot is knitting back together nicely! I have graduated from a boot to an orthopedic shoe! But still no driving for FOUR MORE WEEKS, aaaargh …

      Like

  6. Wow, you’re right. This definitely didn’t go the direction I was expecting. Of all the metaphorical turns that an equinox could have taken, this one was a surprise. But you crafted it so well.

    A dark period, indeed. In so many directions. I could say something pithy about the importance of darkness, about that balance of space and time and light, but you ARE right. There IS more day than night, more light than darkness.

    Consider this human heart moved.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for hosting, and sharing your beautiful thoughts! I’m sorry to be rushing in at the last minute today instead of in a calm, dignified manner. 🙂 Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

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