It's been mighty cold this winter. It seems to have begun for me in early January when my friend Rachel brought the medicine pole to my house. Within our circle, we pass a medicine pole around. To me, the medicine pole is a symbol of our group, and of the friendship and healing energy we share. Each of us placed a feather on it with a prayer. It is said that when the feather disappears, the prayers are answered. During the month with the medicine pole, there is usually a lesson learned or an unneeded pattern released.
When I received the pole Tim and I were on the other end of the flu. I sat and drank tea with my friend as we discussed the lessons the pole imparted on her. That afternoon, I received an e-mail from my good friend Bob. "The pole will have wisdom for you," he said.
"Spend some time with it, journey with it, listen to what it has to say."
Then it got cold. Really cold. The temperature dipped into the single digits, and the wind blew relentless. During all of this, the pole was unmoved, holding its post underneath the Maple Tree. Meanwhile, I retreated. Like a bear, I had reached a time of suspended animation. I was maintaining, but not moving forward. I even became frustrated. In the end, the medicine pole looked on, unencumbered by my opinions.
I learned of the power of the sleep time, of time to empty resources so that I could renew others. The power of the medicine pole didn't lie in sudden realizations, but in patience and time. Such is the rate of our spiritual growth. There are times of great enlightenment, of astounding lessons, and spurts of growth. That is not how the universe moves, however. When there is movement, there must also be stillness; a time of rest and absorption- a sleep time. In this fast forward society, we miss those opportunities of stillness. We want the quick fix, the immediate satisfaction. The seeds sown in the fall sleep through winter before they bloom. That time of suspension-that is the time of change and great promise. It is truly a gift. So let us retreat to our caves when we find the need. In this retreat, our patience will reward us in a more joyful rest. Very soon the glorious notes of spring will bloom once again, bringing with it color and light.