We live in cycles. We tend to think of our lives as linear: yesterday, today, tomorrow. Last year, this year, next. Points on a line. But seen properly, our motion through time is more a traversing of a spiral. There is forward motion, yes, but seen from a certain perspective, our life unfolds along circles. Think of it. We cycle through our days: we wake up, we work and we play, we eat and we drink, we sleep. Every lived day is different of course, but it is different the way the weather is different: today warm, tomorrow colder, no wind or windy, no clouds, a few clouds, cloudy--and so though different every day is much like the one before it. The sun sets a little earlier or a little later. I remember this summer, out on the road, when I watched nightly in the hours after sunset the dance of Jupiter and Venus in the Western sky. Every day a little different. Every day, not much different. Cycles.
Some of our cycles are human-made: our seven-day weeks, our divorced-from-the-moon months. Some of them have a deeper reality. The earth travels around the sun. Winter turns to spring, spring turns to summer, summer to autumn, autumn back to winter.
Fall is the time of consolidation. It is the time of harvest. A certain type of reflection. A looking back on what worked and what didn't. Gathering seeds. Cleaning the tools and putting them away for a while.
On the winter solstice the old year dies and at that moment the new year is born. Birth, death and rebirth: another cycle.
Within that perspective, the first two weeks of the new year--the true New Year, as defined by the sun rather than our silly calendars, could be seen to represent infanthood. (The intersection between our calendar and the Earth's explains, in part, my choice of this time for sabbatical.)
The first days of winter: Dark. Quiet. Cold. A time of rest. Like babes who sleep in their earliest days, we are meant to sleep, too. We are meant to stay close. It is a quiet time. This is not the time for brashness.
Soon enough we'll already feel the days growing longer. This will be the time for beginning. Beginning, as a child begins. Those first stumbling steps.