02/01/2013 12:51 pm ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

Are We Listening to What Nature Is Howling At?

In many cultures, the full moon in January is referred to as the Wolf Moon. Not coincidentally, a popular image, one that's often depicted through illustrations, reveals an energized and powerful silhouette in the night's light of an animal seemingly wailing at a celestial being that will never answer its calls.

But, interestingly, as we think this through a bit more, we realize that the wolf is not howling at the moon but at his pack mates. This is their time for communication, when the earth rests still and their voices carry best. With that in mind, as we ponder this image and consider this time in the cycle of our own lives, in the deep heart center of the winter season, we can easily appreciate how much force it would take to move us from our slumber. Indeed, we need the howling wolf to hear the message... and, what might that be?

Considering recent events, I think the answer is apparent. As a culture, we must deal with the use of guns and reevaluate the question of civil liberties and rights associated with our laws concerning them. As difficult and contentious a subject as this might be, the wolf howling in our backyard tonight is imploring us to respond and take this on, consider it with the full attention that it deserves and not to fall back into our trenches. No, the time has come to take action and make some adjustments in order to save our pack.

All of that being said, there's still no simple answer. And I am not going to suggest one here. But, like the members of the pack of wolves, they listen to each other. They couldn't survive otherwise. And for us too, this is a good time to remember the value of listening and hear what is being said. In order to move forward, we need to respect each other and stay together.

A friend of mine recently told me a story of the impact it had on her life when, as a child, her friend was hit by a car and badly injured. The friend remained in critical condition for weeks after the accident, and it was unclear whether she would survive. It affected her so much so that it actually resulted in a change of behavior. Identifying a new type of fragileness for life, and in an attempt to avoid the notion of having to say goodbye to her friend or to anyone else she cared deeply about, she actually stopped using the word "goodbye" for some time. Although subtle, her mother picked up on this, and kept a reciprocal distance from the phrase out of respect for her daughter, until her friend recovered and they both adapted it again. It wasn't until years later that they discussed it, but she never forgot how taking her slight behavioral shift as a cue, rather than just simply a new habit or circumstance, kept her mother more attune to the message she was expressing.

Now, take this story and relate it back to nature. In this case, my friend's howling was heard, as subtle as it was. And her mother kept this secret safe until it was ready to be released.

Now, take this occurrence in nature and relate it inward. Think of the wolf as a metaphor for a person, and the pack as a metaphor for their community. Many a howl we've let out, calling for hope, support, change or danger, and many have discounted it, regarding it as business as usual. But like the wolf, we have allies who may not be in plain sight, or better yet, we may be one of those hidden allies. In this, we can see that as a group, we are greater than the sum of our parts. And while wolves utilizes their sharp skills of cooperation, working together to achieve their goals of survival, we too can work in cooperation -- regardless of our individual beliefs -- to achieve our goals as well.

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