Summary: Recently I drove into the mountains near Colorado Springs to see the last of the autumn color. The aspen trees were past their prime, and the setting was much quieter than it had been a few weeks earlier. Many leaves had already falled. I felt a hint of w
I am going to start by talking about hibernation! I have been fascinated with the process of hibernation since moving to Colorado.
My first year here, a bear came into my yard every evening during the fall. I loved watching this bear. Having just moved from Florida, a bear seemed very exotic. I was afraid to go near him, so I watched from my kitchen window every night.
One night he did not come by. Another night passed, then another. I began to worry, until someone told me he had probably gone into hibernation. I did some research on hibernation and learned that although hibernation is often thought of as a deep winter slumber, it is quite different from sleep.
Hibernation is a state of dormancy, caused by huge drops in heart rate, body temperature, and metabolism. The body temperature of a bear in hibernation is only a few degrees above freezing…just enough to keep it alive. The heart rate drops from 300 beats a minute to just 3 or 4 beats.
The biological processes that allow hibernation are masterminded by two genes, which have been identified in bears for some time. What’s really interesting is that in the year 2000, scientists discovered the exact same genes in humans! At one time our ancestors may have hibernated, perhaps during the deep winters during the ice age.
We will never know for sure if and when humans hibernated, but the discovery gave birth to the new field of hibernation technology within the medical sciences.
The Army first funded the hunt for hibernation genes in humans in hopes of finding a way to put wounded soldiers into protective hibernation until medical help arrives.
British researchers have looked into the possibility of helping hibernating humans lose weight. Can you imagine getting to sleep all winter and waking up thin at last?
However, transplant surgeons will probably make the first practical use of hibernation technology. The goal is to preserve organs donated for transplant surgery by putting them into a state of hibernation.
Hibernation technology holds great promise in the future. But, the real topic today is spiritual hibernation not a biology lesson.
By spiritual hibernation I mean, creating a time to withdraw and renew ourselves spiritually. We can think of this as hibernation theology!
Hibernation theology is not nearly as complicated as most religious studies. Hibernation theology claims only that we all work hard and we all deserve a time to slow down our heart rate, and enter into a cool darkness where we can rest and renew
Hibernation theology teaches us to welcome dark. Darkness, which many of us shun as synonymous with evil, is actually an opportunity in which we can connect with our subtle senses and give rest to our physical ones. It is soul tending time.
Scottish Monks withdraw every Fall into a place they call the House of Darkness. This dwelling is a long, low hut divided into cubicles. The rooms are completely dark. For a full 24 hours, they lie on their cots with a stone on their belly, and a soft pillow beneath their heads. With their eyes covered, they compose offerings of praise and adoration to God. Before they emerge from the dark hall, the monks recite their compositions. The Scottish Monks retreat to the darkness because they believe that inspiration is sparked more brightly in the darkness.