Winter Solstice’s Deep Breath

Pink clover blooms in the foreground, with a rocky and sandy shore and ocean background, set beneath a blue-gray sky.


How do you sow clover?

That’s a question posed decades ago in a different time of confusion and violence, yet a time that feels almost quaint in comparison to today. Just as meditations require us to bring our most provocative and unruly thoughts back to the breath, even the mundane ones, always back to the breath, let’s take the next few minutes to bring it back to the clover. 

As Director of CDE, I’ve wondered over the past months whether we should follow suit with other organizations and put out a statement about Gaza. Like you, I have witnessed the aftermath of the tragedies of October 7th in Israel, plus the killing and displacement of innocent civilians in Palestine. I have listened deeply to rightful outrage against all the violence that has and continues to take place. So much has been said. The question now for CDE is not what we can add to the dialogue, but rather how we can actively practice the work we train and talk about so often? How can we foster healing, inclusion and love, especially when the wounds are so deep, and the world around us feels increasingly closed off to this practice? 

More and more, we see how systems of oppression are interconnected. They grow, one-up, and reinforce each other. While the violence waged on in Gaza, COP 28 came to a close in Dubai. Two hundred attending countries wrestled over the semantics of “phase out” vs. “transition,” all while communities worldwide suffered heat waves, floods, fires, cancers, respiratory illnesses, and the less quantifiable anguish of living through a mass extinction. Somehow the brutal violence in one sliver of land has felt acutely connected to a larger violence played out in a sparkling expo center.

And over here in the U.S., we are likewise in the mire of patterns that divide us. With a backdrop of rising anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish racism, women continue to be threatened for seeking healthcare, refugees on our borders continue to be demonized and shamed, the life-sustaining land of Turtle Island continues to be desecrated. In the midst of this, we as seekers and fighters for justice must envision the future we need with more devotion and clarity than ever, even as our visions feel harder to hold onto. This means centering love, inclusion, and healing. It means allowing for nuance and difference. It means honoring the power of dialogue and deep listening.

In times of trauma, certainty can feel like a desperately needed life raft, but if we’re not careful it can also be a cudgel of white supremacy culture. Dismantling settler colonialism, in all its forms, means breaking down the walls that prevent our voices from reaching each other. Our kinship lies in our ability to change our minds, our openness to holding multiple truths at once.

This winter solstice I feel immersed in the gift of darkness, but also whole-heartedly trusting and welcoming the coming light. What comes next is spring, time to sow clover.  How will you sow yours?

With love and gratitude for the Winter Solstice and for all of you and the work that you do, 


In the dark of the moon,
in flying snow,
in the dead of winter,
war spreading,
families dying,
the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

Wendell Berry, 1968