I have just returned from visiting family. The visit was less about the season per say; indeed I tend to avoid travel this time of year if I can help it. However, sometimes life requires you to flexibly respond and off I was to the airport with my long underwear and favourite toque. My parents, my brother and niece all live in the interior of B.C. Imagine picturesque snow covered mountains, chickadees flirting with the snowflakes and rosy cheeked children. While both the towns they live in centre on ski culture, it is not unusual to find hard core mountain bikers braving the trails with thicker tires! While my family is originally from Ontario, arguably much flatter but just as cold, we have each in our own way gravitated to living in B.C. And I began to wonder why we all resonate with the climates we have landed in. I began to deliberate on a blog dedicated to the season, and it occurred to me that creation and access to sacred spaces is part of how we mark the season.
For some, scared spaces this time of year are reflected in brick and mortar places, such as synagogue, church, temple and circles. For others, there may be a sacredness bestowed upon more humble abodes, such as grandparents’ or your own kitchen table. The space that evokes warmth, connection, and reverence can be considered the sacred. But as I have been learning on my trip what is sacred to one might be mundane to another.
For me, the mountains are my scared place. There are several things that tell me this. I often dream more when I am in the mountains. I am no dream expert, but there is something about the turning of my mind that must be tapping into something deeper. I am more inclined to be outdoors, savouring rarities for Victorians like snow. I tend to appreciate my body more for what it can do in inclement weather. I tend to practice more gratitude for sunlight, warmth from a fire, and the felt community of being in such an awesome place. I generally set my body to the pace of the season, which rightfully comes with lots of rest and self-care in winter and lots of enthusiasm in the summer. In sum, I am grounded in a natural rhythm, surrounded by beauty and grateful and amazed.
Of course, it is a long commute from the B.C Interior to Island Family Counselling 🙂 The reality is that the mountains I see here are long in the distance, it never seems to stop raining and I generally freak out when I can see my breath because I know I don’t have snow tires on the car. And yet for many, the ocean is their sacred spot. I work with several clients who have told me their relationship with the ocean is parallel to mine of the mountains. There is a connection that cannot be explained, and sometimes I wonder if we have to explain at all. In our quest for grounding, sound mental health and connection, nature seems a perfect place to start.
So this season, we encourage to consider what is sacred ecology/space to you? Where do you feel most connected and cherished? If you can’t be there (including myself, flying home as I write this), how do you invoke the spirit of the sacred in a way that can be embodied and thus never severed from your body/mind?
For a very cool series on Sto:lo sacred sites, see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/spirits-stolo-ancestors-live-fraser-valley-landmarks-1.4074785
For great listening on space, sacredness and art, check out this interview by Mary Hynes: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/mystical-landscapes-1.3842067
So wherever you are contemplating the season, our best wishes to you.
Cole and the IFC family