As I got up this morning, I could see the ice and snow layering itself on the roof and trees. Before coming downstairs, I stopped and watched the rainfall as this liquid halted, forming each droplet into ice.
I did my usual morning things – I made coffee, meditated, journaled, etc. Then I sat in my moon room, watching the water pour from the sky to collect on the branches outside my window. A quick layer of ice formed on each branch. I began to contemplate the fragility of this transformation as each thin layer of ice hung from the branches like glass. I find this to be a beautiful sight. I love how the ice becomes suspended water, encasing the branches as if it were trying to preserve them. The ice was fragile in this state. I could easily break it off to expose the branch underneath. Yet even within this delicate state, ice is dangerous. When ice gets underfoot, we can fall and suffer serious injury. If we break too hard, we can slide and crash our car. If the ice were to stay too long, the tree would die. The birds and animals who depend on the tree will also suffer.
The next thing I knew, this became a metaphor. We are born into this world of water. In fact, we are suspended within it during the first 9-months of our lives.
We are born flexible.
We are born soft.
We are born like the rain.
Then something happens, and we must harden ourselves. After a while, we begin to value our icy shells. This shell begins to appear beautiful to others as well. We are labeled solid and independent. Patriarchy loves this state, as our outer shell becomes a cold layer of protection from anyone and anything that will harm or challenge us. We become rigid like ice building layer upon layer… frigid and dangerous.
We forget how to be soft.
We forget how to be fluid.
We forget how to be flexible.
We lose our sense of harmony.
We forget how to be compassionate and generous.
From within, we begin to die. Our inner warmth goes cold. We distract ourselves in a vain attempt to slow or halt this death. We become conditioned to see this outer cold-hard shell as necessary. We forget the importance of letting our outer shell crack and fall away. We forget to breathe and spark the warmth from within. We blame circumstances and others as we further hide our true inner self. Then one day, we can no longer breathe or feel our own warmth. The layers are now too thick and constraining.
At some point, we forget that this frozen state was once delicate. It could have been easily broken like the thin layer of ice forming on the branches. As our layers thicken, something more is needed. With a circle of proper support and circumstances, the layers of ice will fall away. It will take time as we introduce warmth and melt the layers of ice. We need a supportive circle of others who have broken their shells and learned to honor feelings of betrayal, fear, rage, and resentment. We can sit with these feelings, allowing others to warm us as they serve us a hot brew of nourishing warmth. We can learn our pain’s name. We can then speak it between sips.
Or we can continue to close ourselves off further build layers of ice, allowing our outer shell to become thick and unmoving. We can forget our original state, claiming that this is how we are and that is just how it is going to be. Or we can stop. We can take another sip of hot tea and let our rigid shell melt away, one layer at a time.