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From Darkness Into Light: 5 Ways Animals Show Us How to Thrive in Bleak Times

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the earth turns to winter this month and we tend to turn away from our activities and perhaps even from each other as we nestle in our warm homes. As we near the shortest day of the year (which is not a true measure of time but an appearance of light or the lack thereof), life can feel harsh, cold and dark; the antithesis of what most of us strive to feel in our daily experience.

Intellectually, we know there is no place that God is not - no being, circumstance or condition. Yet it is in these moments we may feel isolated, alone and powerless. From the Christian tradition, we are reminded that "In the days of prosperity by happy, but in the days of adversity consider God has made the one as well as the other." (Ecclesiastes 7:14) To help us on this journey, we can draw from the wisdom of nature to find inspirational strategies to not only survive the rugged winters of our earth and our soul, but to thrive in any challenging condition, no matter the season:

1. Center. Frogs and turtles have no way to keep warm during winter, so they seek shelter in deep water where they can burrow and breath through their skin. Through daily prayer and meditation, we allow our essence to bathe in the living waters of the Infinite which replenishes and restores the body, mind and spirit.

2. Circulate. The arctic fox has a circulation system that uses its healthy supply of body fat to retain heat in its paws, allowing it to move forward in even the most severe conditions. By consciously giving our abundant supply of time, talent and treasure, we open the channels for new opportunities to circulate in our lives and move us forward on our path of prosperous living especially in the midst of a challenge.

3. Create. Bears aren't the only creatures to hibernate when conditions turn tough. But what appears to be an inactive state is one of the most powerful cycles for many animals. Pregnant female bears, marmots and ground squirrels give birth to and nurture their children during hibernation. Likewise, winter can be an incredibly creative time for us. We can birth a new business, work of art or online network no matter how dark or cold it is outside.

4. Connect. Colonies of emperor penguins form tight circles to share body heat and block the wind, rotating from the outside in so everyone receives the benefit of the group. When we connect with a spiritual community, neighborhood or special interest group, we uplift ourselves and each other as we gain support and strength in sharing our journey.

5. Celebrate. The Japanese macaque, the northernmost dwelling primate, knows how to make the most of the situation. These little wisdom keepers forego the barriers of a strict social hierarchy and gather to swim in hot springs and huddle in tight spaces without violence. When we drop all of the excuses that separate us from one another, we can accept fully the gift of each experience and rejoice in knowing that every day is a day to celebrate life, love and the freedom of our choices.

"For everything there is a season,

and a time for every purpose under heaven."

Ecclesiastes 7:1

When we trust in the ever-unfolding goodness in our lives, we open to the possibilities each new experience can bring regardless of its appearance.


© Nancy Noack and Mighty Oak Ministries International, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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