Today is the feast of Imbolc, one of the four seasonal festivals in the old Celtic calendar. The meaning of Imbolc is unclear but it may derive from an old Irish word meaning “in the belly”, referring to sheep being pregnant. Whatever the meaning, the feast was celebrated because it is the midway point between the winter and the spring solstice, was connected with the budding of new life, the time when hope begins to stir because Spring will soon be here.
Midway points…Something is always coming to birth. We are always in transition and yet always fully ourselves. The challenge is how to hold fully both aspects.
As human beings we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground – something predictable and safe to stand on – seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not.
What a predicament! We seem doomed to suffer simply because we have a deep-seated fear of how things really are. Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process. So this is where we find ourselves: right in the middle of a dilemma. And it leaves us with some provocative questions: What is it like to realize we can never completely and finally get it all together? Is it possible to increase our tolerance for instability and change? How can we make friends with unpredictability and uncertainty – and embrace them as vehicles to transform our lives?
This anxiety or queasiness in the face of impermanence isn’t something that afflicts just a few of us; it’s an all-pervasive state that human beings share. But rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said, “Yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human,” and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride?
Pema Chodron, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change