There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens …
For our ancestors the rhythms of the seasons were their calendar, the rising and setting of the sun their only clock. Today our clocks seem to spin much faster and it is easy to ignore—or even forget—these more primal seasons and their meaning. And yet as our world appears to spin more and more out of balance—temperatures and sea levels rising, species depleted—there is a pressing need to return to a deeper rhythm, to the cycles that belong to healing and transformation, to the seasons of the Earth and the seasons of the soul. Returning we may find a balance resurfacing from deep within, a balance that reconnects and restores us, and also allows us to contribute in unseen ways.
One of Carl Jung’s favorite stories was “The Rainmaker,” in which a world out of balance, in a time of drought and suffering, was healed not through activity, but through a rainmaker retiring to a hut in silence. Three days later the rain came and the drought was over. When he was asked how he brought the rain, he replied, “Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordnance of heaven. Therefore, the whole country is not in Tao, and I am also not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao, and then naturally the rain came.”
If we are to participate creatively in these toxic times, to bring rain to a land where the inner and outer wells have run dry, first we need to be present “in another country where things are in order.” And this “other country” is not so far away, but can be found in the Earth beneath our feet, and in the space between the in-breath and the out-breath where the soul is present. But first we need to reconnect, to return to this place of balance. And the simplest way is through stillness and silence.
Silence draws us inward, away from the clutter and distractions of our outer life, to the deeper roots of our being. Here our soul nourishes us, here we can be replenished, and here we can help replenish our world. The Earth is dying from the ravages of our culture, of our materialistic nightmare which pollutes the air we breathe, the water we drink, and starves our soul from its natural connection to the sacred. In the silence, we can drink deeply of the waters of life that are still pure, we can commune with the primal forces of nature, we can return to what is sacred and essential to our life and to the life of the Earth.
Here in this “other country” the air is not toxic, and the miasma of today’s world in this post-truth era is not blurring our vision. The laugher of children rings true. Stillness is here, and the seasons are in balance. Every in-breath and out-breath is sacred. The breath, the soul, the Earth and its seasons, are linked together, nourished by each other. It is a time to heal.
Sitting here beside my window I look out onto the wetlands. I watch the tides rise and fall, the sun red in the morning, sometimes breaking through the mist. Traffic may pass on the road just beneath me, the early morning milk truck, but the silence remains. As I get older I am less and less drawn to activity, more of me remains in stillness, sensing the Earth, watching the birds at my birdfeeder—I love the woodpecker with his bright red crest. Fall here means colder days and the coming of rain.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi teacher in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order. He is the author of several books and the editor of Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth.