The great darkness of a northern winter has settled over our far corner of Minnesota. It always fascinates me to watch the world through thin light and a palette of greys and blues. It evokes a meditative distance even as the cold enforces a feeling of immediacy.
I don’t think it is possible to overemphasize the power of the land and the weather to shape our characters, and it is this, more than any cultural affinity that draws me to Native American reality. I truly believe that we are formed by the great forces that surround us, and all those who live in the presence of the same forces begin to have certain affinities of character.
I once wrote about this in a terribly misunderstood book entitled, A Haunting Reverence: Meditations on a Northern Land. I had wanted to reveal the character of the land on which I live by offering metaphoric glimpses and meditations of the people and places that it contains. I was trying to do the same for the West Coast in Road Angels: Searching for Home on America’s Coast of Dreams. But it, too, was misunderstood and seen as chronicle rather than metaphoric exploration of the spirit of place.
We are so trained to do cultural analysis and assessment, and so poorly prepared to listen to the poetry of space and place. But these are the things that are going to help us make this American continent our spiritual home rather than simply a set on which we play out our individual dreams of personal betterment.
I hope this winter turns each of you inward a bit, and brings you closer to friends, family, and the land on which you live. Hearing the silences, sensing the timbres, seeing the colorations of the heart are the secret truths that give life depth and meaning.
If I don’t write again before the end of the holidays, my best to all of you. Care for those around you and hold them close. It is, as always, a good time to be alive.