Sun Stands Still

If you will contemplate your lack of fantasy, of inspiration and inner aliveness, which you feel as sheer stagnation and a barren wilderness, and impregnate it with the interest born of alarm at your inner death, then something can take shape in you, for your inner emptiness conceals just as great a fullness if only you will allow it to penetrate into you. If you prove receptive to this “call of the wild,” the longing for fulfillment will quicken the sterile wilderness of your soul as rain quickens the dry earth. – Jung (CW 14, par. 190)

Like frozen grass on an old prairie farm, winter withholds the promises of a long ago spring. And Earth, playing coy, it seems, turns away, as if she could care less that we are left standing here shivering, straddling between darkness and the thin light. How are we to be in this longest night? If emptiness conceals fullness, as Jung suggests, than how do we remain empty so we may be full?







Let the long night penetrate you with its barrenness. Let it wander over you like an old moose foraging through the snow. Shut down the factories, and bring all engines to a halt. Turn off Facebook! And, step outside for a chilly moment to offer a salute to the setting sun one last time before the rock is set before the tomb. For time has slipped away again, as it has been slipping for billions of years, and here we are shaking our heads at another winter solstice.

Everything dies, I’m afraid. At some point, all turns blacker than black, concealing, I hope, a greater fullness. But today, there is too much death, too soon: 132 children killed in a Pakistani school, a young black man murdered again, and another, and another. 200 species gone extinct each day. The list goes on. The bank account is glutted with unlived lives, and I have a lot to say about that.


Casper David Friedrich, "winter tomb"

Casper David Friedrich, “winter tomb”










But on this solstice day, I will try and withhold my thoughts and opinions. I will stand with the unmoving sun and refuse the impulse to fix or to judge. I will do my best to not fill the emptiness with things that don’t belong, and to hold the darkness near to my chest, just as it is. God help me.











What mystery waits beyond winter’s door? During winter solstice the earth tilts northward – or southward, depending – 23 ½ degrees to be exact, tucking the sun away into its opposite hemisphere. Isn’t it interesting that a tilt of the earth – such as the tilt of a head deep in thought – is responsible for all this life and commotion? If the tilt were, say, one half a degree more or less, would the planet be too hot or too cold to support the regeneration of life? What would happen if Earth righted itself?











Let’s never get too right about things. Can we learn to sit with ease on the sharp blade between darkness and light? Is it possible to tend the tomb of Christ without having to create a religion? (Or a program?) And most of all, can we sit together in the darkness for one still moment without saying a word?

All life depends on this earth’s tilting 23 ½ degrees. That brings me to pause. Is God’s tilting head thinking us into existence? Or, is this tilt a cosmic expression of compassion, a seasonal greeting that brings rain to a dry land? I suppose we can argue about it, but the rain still comes, even when it is obvious we didn’t cause it. Nor, do we deserve it. The rain still comes.

A new light is about to be born. Stand at the tomb’s door and wait. Don’t let it slip away unnoticed.

"Sunrise" Alan Reynolds

“Sunrise” by Alan Reynolds. Retrieved from ARAS











* Earth images from

In The Eye of the Arthropod

What is a millipede’s life worth? How can we possibly measure the value of a bug beneath the rotting log at the bottom of the old woodpile? I picked up the log to place it in the wood splitter, and there in the decaying oak leaves I saw a neat pile of brown and soft pellets, which I later learned were egg casings. And off to the side, coiled up, was the millipede, hiding her face in the mud as if ashamed by my discovery. My adolescent self got me probing, squeamishly, with a stick through the eggs, no doubt causing collateral damage. The millipede just curled up even more tightly. I felt bad when I awoke to my reckless stupidity. I always thought millipedes were dangerous, better off dead than out and about, threatening innocent children. But I was wrong.

Millipedes can cause vomiting if eaten. They produce a bad smell when agitated. And, according to quite of few websites, they make “excellent pets”, as long as you don’t keep more than you can care for. Really? See for yourself.

And best of all… as a prelude to mating, a male millipede will persuade the female to relax by walking on her back, massaging her with his feet, loosening up her tightly coiled body so he can access her soft underside. With tickly toes and amatory pheromones, he woos her.

mating millipede

Millipedes are on my mind. Why? When I lifted up the log and saw the nest, and then another, and then another, it became clear that I lived in a millipede colony, or rather, a millipede ashram. Every piece of wood that I split that day held an entomological surprise – a hibernating wasp, a nest of termites, brown-patterned spiders, frantic earwigs – and while all the bugs scurried about, flying and crawling every which way, the millipedes turned deeper into them selves, spiraled like a perfect shell from a faraway sea.


Three months ago I had a dream that seemed to have reconfigured my brain structure. The dream came at a particularly tumultuous time in my life when I was stricken by night sweats and heart-pounding panic. My mind would not stop spinning off with self-doubts and fears; I was questioning my ability to make good decisions, to live a well-intentioned and meaningful life. I felt lost. And then, finally, after picking through the muck, I happened to lift the right log at the right time, and like the millipede, the dream appeared. Just like that.

The dream came while I was teaching at The Ojai Foundation. The program staff had put me up for the week in a canvas dome structure, situated far out on a path that meandered through the oaks. The dome had round plastic windows, like bug eyes, or a space capsule. Inside there was a futon, a small rug, and a vase of flowers.


In the dream, I was no longer in the dome, but in the Eye of God. I was sitting crossed legged inside God’s cornea, peacefully gazing out on the universe.

I mentioned to the group the next morning that being in the Eye of God is like being in the eye of the storm. While the world is blowing about fiercely, dangerously, in a wild and spiraled tornado, scooping up chairs, bicycles, mailboxes, and all the other stuff of life, including weapons of mass destruction and Keystone XLs, inside the Eye it is calm and beautiful. It’s like sitting in the middle of a band of whirling dervishes. It’s like being on mind-altering drugs. It’s that good. If only I could stay inside forever. I can’t. But the Eye remains, I know.

An image of Hurricane Isabel as seen from the International Space Station showing a well-defined eye at the center of the storm.

An image of Hurricane Isabel as seen from the International Space Station showing a well-defined eye at the center of the storm.

I like to think of the millipede as a child of God because the idea is so absurd. But, on the other hand, why is the millipede so symmetrical? Why so perfect in its design? Why in its spiral-mandala manifestation does it divulge an archetypal essence? To be archetypal is to be of the gods. Maybe the millipede is god. Maybe to sit in the Eye of God is to sit inside the center of the millipede, wooing her with a foot message. Maybe we are wooing the entire universe with our feet, walking as we do, out to the old woodpile for another log, opening her up to the soft underside of her being.