March 25, 2005

A Yin Day

As a non-Christian, I've wondered a fair amount in my lifetime about the meaning of Good Friday but have not felt much affected personally by its tragic emotions. (One reason may be that the contemporary American world around me doesn't seem much affected by them either.)

This Good Friday seems different, though. Maybe it's because I just had a birthday, venturing reluctantly one step closer to death. (This year's early Easter causes a conjunction with my individual lifecourse.) But it feels like more than that. All this week the news has been preoccupied with death watches--one for an innocent young brain-damaged woman, one for a deeply aged, brave religious leader. And with an acute outbreak of youth crime amid poverty and oppression. And with the chronic disorder of our body politic.

It's also Purim, a Jewish holiday that's joyous in tone but that reminds us of the cyclic upwelling of genocide in this world. It's a holiday of victory but also of vigilance. In any generation, the wicked Haman may rise up against us, and we all need to be potential Esthers to defeat him.

It's been a bright sunny spring week here, but the streets are eerily quiet, maybe because lots of people have a day off from work. It's as if a filter has been placed over the bright blue sky and the sunlit green trees.

It's a yin day, a yin week: low energy, negativity, contraction, pessimism. It feels as if the whole world is waiting for the other shoe to drop. What's going to happen next?

Thankfully we know that "at the extreme of yin, yang is ready to emerge." A cycle of bleakness, fatigue, and dread will give way to a cycle of joy, vigor, and hope. Whether it's a resurrection after a crucifixion, or the recovery of a people slated for extermination, or the mere turning of the wheel of yin and yang.

The world is blessed. Perhaps days like these are incentives to concentrate harder on that truth.