Another description of an animal in winter from Gayle Boss, this time a porcupine:
Inside [a hollow oak tree], out of the wind but eschewing the comfort of a nest, he assumes the pose of his winter rest. Sitting up, he tucks the unfurred patch of his rump beneath him so it won’t leak heat. He folds his forelimbs close to his thinly furred chest and turns in his broad back limbs to shield his thinly furred belly. Lone ascetic in the dim heart of the tree, he closes his eyes and hugs himself, warmed by his own radiant core.
That’s what seasons of reflection and hibernation offer us—the opportunity to be warmed by our radiant core.
One of the lessons from the Enneagram, the psycho-spiritual tool that’s helped shape me and my worldview, is that our essence cannot be lost or harmed. Underneath our personalities, beyond our family histories, deeper than our vocational self, deeper than our roles of mother, brother, boss, daugher, our essence breathes. Our true self sustains us. It may remain hidden for decades. For some people, it remains hidden right up until death. The invitation to those of still alive is to uncover it before it’s too late. To risk the cold of winter, the terror of our negative emotions, to risk the possibility that maybe, underneath it all, we’re empty. When we open ourselves to that emptiness, we might experience, as Denise Levertov says, that “Emptiness is a cup/and holds and ocean.”
P.S. Jenn’s cat Eddie, who makes me want to have a cat. Which is crazy.