‘Be kind’, she said, and people were during the time of Lockdown Level 4, smiling on the street, offering help with shopping, and phoning to check on friends and neighbours.
And then life reverted to busyness, rush hour traffic, and harassing by unkind media of our leader, the very person who brought us into safety and into kindness.
Enter a friend
When my friend came to visit she brought oranges from her garden. Last time she brought carefully selected leaves of rocket, tucked into a transparent pouch. Before that she brought camellias.
There’s something about sharing garden produce that is inherently kind. It is spreading abundance. It offers goodness.
Garden gifts may also awaken memories
The oranges are old-fashioned ones with thick skins. Their green leaves fold over the round curves as they sit in my bowl. These oranges remind me of my parents’ tree in Mt Roskill.
When I was 14 the family travelled from Taranaki to live in Auckland, and an orange tree was a marvel that we had never seen before. We ate freely from the bounty, gave the fruit away, and still it kept appearing and dropping down on to the lawn.
Oranges are a winter fruit, a gift of brightness on gloomy days.
Ten years ago
The oranges also bring another memory, of my second Seasons Newsletter, sent out in June 2010. The title was ‘Lighting the Inner Fire’, and this is how it started:
‘The fragrance of lemon trees drifts up to my balcony, and their fresh fruit swells and brightens in a ray of winter sunlight. My friend’s mandarin tree is hanging out its little lanterns. I’m remembering the orange tree from a previous garden, and how brightly the fruit stood out against the dark foliage. I recall these lines from 17th-century poet Andrew Marvell:
He hangs in shades the orange bright,
Like golden lamps in a green night.
In winter, as the days grow stormy and grey, we need to find ways of harnessing the sun’s warmth. Each time I look at the lemons or mandarins it’s as if I’m transferring a little sun inside me.’
The oranges also reminded me that I wanted to talk about maintaining the inner light in winter and to ask you this question:
How do you keep a little sun glowing inside during a dark season, either inner or outer?
In view of recent events in the world, I also have this question:
When kindness diminishes and the world seems dominated by harshness, how do you hold faith with the light of kindness and other values that you hold dear?
It’s a challenge
At such times we are challenged to maintain balance.
The world is neither all bad nor all good. The shock of harsh, cruel actions needs to be balanced by passionate actions that express strong, positive values.
In spiritual traditions, these values are known as The Virtues.
Can you relate to any of these?
Can you find these qualities in your own heart?
Which virtues do you most need to cultivate in this season, in order to hold faith and keep a sun blazing in your heart?
*Open your hands, with the palms up.
*In one palm, imagine you are holding the aspects of this world that you are finding difficult to bear.
*In the other palm imagine that you are holding a cluster of virtues/values that you can feel light up your heart with their warmth and strength.
*Notice what it is like to hold both.
Let this practice be kind and compassionate.
I wish you the kindness of oranges.
For winter’s big with summer in her womb.
— Vita Sackville West
I entered my new book in the prestigious Ashton Wylie Award for an unpublished manuscript in the mind/body/spirit genre and received this message:
‘Your entry has been selected as one of five finalists in the 2020 Ashton Wylie Unpublished Manuscript Awards.’
The title of the book is ‘Sun, Moon, and Stars: seasonal celebrations for children and families, tamariki and whānau’ and the winner will be announced at a special ceremony on August 14.
PS Would you like to experience a home ritual that will guide you through a process of replenishment and discovery? The Winter Attunement will lead you to the gifts that winter has waiting for you. You will connect with your inner wisdom and the new life that seeks to awaken within.