A friend of my wife’s recently returned from an overseas work trip. While there, she foraged two magnificent pine cones and squirrelled them back for us. These are the best kinds of mementos - borrowed from nature, they invoke the senses and remind us of the person/place they came from. I love the way they make our home smell warm, woody, and restful, especially in the mornings.
My mind often wanders as I sip my coffee over breakfast. One thought I mused over is the mathematical beauty that adorns the heads of pine cones. This same Fibonacci sequence appears elsewhere in nature but depicted here, its pattern is both pleasing and hypnotic.
Another thought I meditated on is the nature of the pine cone itself. Its structure serves as a protective shell for its tiny life-giving seeds. Once those seeds have been dispersed, the pine cone no longer serves a reproductive function. It is a dead object. But perceived in another way, you could say that the pine cone sacrificed itself to ensure its seeds survive to germinate and bear life. It might be a dead object now but its ‘death’ was life-giving too.
Christmas has similarly taken on this dual significance. For my religiously diverse family, this season has always been a time of joy, full of life and laughter. This year, we are making the best of our limited gatherings, being present with the people we’re able to meet, and staying present in the now. At the same time, we bemoan the uncomfortable work/life changes that have been foisted upon us and our uncertain future. Happiness, relief, anxiety, weariness - a hodgepodge of feelings all wrapped up together.
Perhaps this cycle of celebration and crisis is all part of the natural order of things as life unravels according to its own Fibonacci sequence. What life-giving seeds will survive and germinate in a post-Covid world?
My hope is this:
that we will take better care of ourselves, each other, and our world;
that being kept apart now will help us to come together again in generosity and solidarity;
that there will be peace on earth.
A very Merry Christmas to you and to those you hold dear.