By Eréndira Jimenez Esquinca
There is a funny feeling about this sunshiny, blue sky, green-treed winter that I can’t seem to shake…
On the second day of December, I went to the park and as I laid on my blanket, looking up at the sky, enjoying the sun warming my body. I allowed the earth’s support beneath me to bring me into a deep moment of groundedness and rooting. In this moment, I turned to my friend and commented that I felt uncommonly lucky to live in a place where I can feel the pulsating life of this planet even as we approach the onset of winter. It’s one of the paradoxes of living in San Diego, having blue skies and warm weather nearly year-round.
My spirituality has always been connected to the rhythms of the natural world. More than any meaning-making story or practice that we can connect with—religion, various spiritual modalities—the created world has always held space for the swirling of my inner life, mirrored back to me through a very particular and constant ordering of time: spring follows winter, life and death ebb and flow, all things in their proper time.
And so, after almost a decade of living in places with seasonal transitions and navigating the plummet of seasonal affective disorder, I admit that I am quite taken by this winter of sunlight and warmth—of this winter that continues to hold vestiges of the fecundity and movement of summer. There is certainly a part of me that misses the call and invitation of dark nights, cold air, snowy hills, and icy roads to go inward into the recesses of the self in order to uncover that which wants to be unfurled from the shadows. To partake in the stillness, quiet, and yes, even death of winter has been to confront my need for all three so that I can encounter flourishing and liberation in my life.
But this year, I feel I am met with the luminous as we approach the winter solstice. In the face of the darkest night of the year, I feel a deep comfort bestowed on me from a world illuminated by refractions of sunlight dancing through the leaf-filled trees. This winter, I do not find myself in the gestational darkness of the womb. This year, I am met with brightness and warmth. I am met with feelings of joy, hope, and potentiality that are made possible through an abundance of vitamin D.
Now, rooted in a place that lacks true seasons, I find myself invited into releasing the assumption that darkness and light must arrive to shake and awaken me at the moments that I expect, or even presume, they must. Winter light and summer darkness have their own lessons. This slanted, soft, and cool winter light speaks to me that any season can hold multiplicity and paradox. This winter I remember that the meaning we search for—in our relationships, vocations, communities, even in our experiences of the Divine—might not be the meaning that appears before us.
I suppose the funny feeling is a reminder that life and death, light and dark are not so neatly ordered. The order that we come to depend on to give our lives form and direction must sometimes be released so that we can be surprised by hope, joy, and potentiality in unpredictable places and ways. Whether your approaching winter is filled with light and warmth, or you find yourself held in a cold and dark embrace, I hope this next season brings you an encounter with your own funny feeling of uncommonly lucky surprise.
Eréndira Jimenez Esquinca (she/her) is a Mexican-born, San Diego-raised woman, who has recently returned to the unceeded Kumeyaay land she grew up on. She is the founder of Spirit School—a decolonial learning and support container that bridges the space between self, systems, and spirituality to create anti-oppressive, equitable, and liberated individuals, communities, and world. She works as a spiritual companion, decolonizing coach and consultant, and educator focusing on justice, equity, decolonizing, healing, and liberation through a mystical and contemplative lens. Her professional background includes social work, college chaplaincy, experimental community building, and congregational development in the Episcopal Church. She holds an M.A. in Spirituality from Bellarmine University, a Masters of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and is currently engaged in personal study of shadow work and archetypes, queer spiritualities, and Human Design. You can find more about her at www.erendirajimenez.com.