Happy New Year of the Cow. As we leave the Year of the Rat in 2008, I'm astounded at how many people I know who were visited by rats and field mice in their gardens, cars, kitchens and basements during the past year. I dealt with a mouse nest in my car engine and it took a good while to get rid of the wonderful scent of mouse that filled my car if I turned on the heater. It has at last disappeared, and now I wonder if we'll be visited by wandering cows and oxen in 2009? Will we discover the huge creatures blocking the roadway as we approach Olympia Zen Center? If they bring a bit of "Mu" I think we'll be okay.
In any event, many of us seem glad to leave behind the old year and to begin afresh with a new dynamic and promise for the days ahead. A sense of creativity is strong and the atmosphere is hopeful. Still, we're not past the impenetrable grey ceiling that feels more like an ominous blanket than an actual sky. Snow continues to sneak into the forecasts. It's still a time of hibernation in this dark and silent period.
Thus, the creative is doing its subtle processes, mulling around and letting the seeds soak in the nutrients before they break through to the stage of sprouting. This goes on in us in winter, the time to look into the dark places of ourselves and inquire as to how we are doing. We do this at New Year and the lunar new year comes at a more brittle, weather-wise time even though we are moving toward more light. It's a deep part of the night dream when we ought not awaken, but rather stay with the stillness before birth because something important is about to be realized.
This is a good time, entering the Year of the Cow, to do a bit of grazing, slowing down, recognizing the natural rhythms of the day, and finding ease in simple things. When I travel for workshops to Switzerland, the land of cows, we must take a brief connecting train ride from the airplane to the Zurich airport. Sound effects play out cow bells and mooing sounds that inevitably make everyone burst out laughing together. I think of the comfort of the sound of the cow mooing and celebrate the animal that as Walt Whitman says, "preaches contentment."