AGEING: THE BEAUTY OF THE INNER HARVEST
TIME AS A CIRCLE
The human eye adores gazing; it feasts on the wild beauty of new landscapes, the dignity of trees, the tenderness of a human face, or the white sphere of the moon blessing the earth in a circle of light. The eye is always drawn to the shape of a thing. It finds some deep consolation and sense of home in special shapes. Deep within the human mind, there is a fascination with the circle because it satisfies some longing within us. It is one of the most universal and ancient shapes in the universe. Reality often seems to express itself in this form. The earth is a circle; and even time itself seems to have a circular nature. The Celtic world was always fascinated with circles; they are prevalent in so much of its art work; the Celts even transfigured the Cross by surrounding it with a circle. The Celtic Cross is a beautiful symbol. The circle around the beams of the Cross rescues the loneliness where the two lines of pain intersect; it seems to calm and console their forsaken linearity.
For the Celtic people the world of nature had different domains; firstly, there was the underworld of nature below the surface of landscape. Here the Tuatha Dé Danann, the fairy people or the good people, lived. The human world was the middle kingdom between the underworld and the heavenly world. There was no closed or sealed frontier between them. Above, there was the supersensual or upper world of the heavens. Each of these three dimensions flowed in and out of each other. Indeed, they participated in each other. It is no wonder, then, that time could be understood as an inclusive and all embracing circle.
The year is a circle. There is the winter season which gives way to the spring; then summer grows out of spring until, finally, the year completes itself in the autumn. The circle of time is never broken. This rhythm is even mirrored in the day; it too is a circle. First, the new dawn comes out of the darkness, strengthening towards noon, falling away towards evening until night returns again. Because we live in time, the life of each person is also a circle. We come out of the unknown. We appear on the earth, live here, feed off the earth and eventually return back into the unknown again. The oceans move in this rhythm too; the tide comes in, turns and goes back out again. It resembles the rhythm of human breath which comes in, fills and then recedes and goes back out again.
The circle brings perspective to the process of ageing. As you age, time affects your body, your experience and above all your soul. There is a great poignancy in ageing. When your body ages, you begin to lose the natural and spontaneous vigour of your youthfulness. Time, like a bleak tide, begins to indent the membrane of your strength. It will continue doing that, until gradually it empties your life completely.This is one of the most vital questions that affects every person. Can we transfigure the damage that time does to us? Let us pursue this question by first exploring our kinship with nature. Since we are formed from clay, the rhythm of the seasons outside in nature is also active within our own hearts. We can learn much, therefore, from the people who constructed and articulated their spirituality in sisterhood with nature, namely the Celtic people. They experienced the year as a circle of seasons. Though the Celts had no explicit psychology, they had implicit intuition and great wisdom about the deeper rhythms of human belonging, vulnerability, growth and diminishment.