30 Nov The Inward Work of Winter
Recently, a friend shared with me an online post she had discovered, one that speaks to the “work” of winter. I found it particularly apt as December commences so am sharing a portion of it here:
“The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year which is coming to a close. Like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds.
Our modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time: alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over-spending, comfort food, and consumerism.
And yet the natural tug to go inwards, as nearly all creatures are doing, is strong and the weather so bitter that people are left feeling that winter is hard, because for those of us without burning fires and big festive families, it can be lonely and isolating. Whereas in actual fact, winter is kind. She points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards this annual time of peace and reflection. She encourages us to embrace the darkness and to forgive and accept the past year as we prepare to say goodbye to it.
Winter takes away the distractions, the buzz, and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb-like love, bringing fire and light to our hearth. And then, just around the corner the new year will begin, and like a seed planted deep in the earth, we will all rise with renewed energy once again to dance in the sunlight.”
This post reflects an ageless wisdom that just as there is a rhythm to the changing seasons outside, there is also a natural rhythm that our souls need and long for. Perhaps it’s no accident that the Winter Solstice comes in the midst of Advent, the church’s season which urges us to reflect, to wait, to prepare for something and Someone whose coming can change our perspective on our lives and our world.
I know it’s hard to let go of the “to do” lists, to stop and simply breathe. Even if we try to physically slow down, our minds can still be racing. This is exactly why people of faith have practiced prayer and meditation for thousands of years. Even though you don’t “have time,” today for such a practice, I encourage you to stop everything anyway, to sit still and gradually become aware of your breathing and God’s presence with you. In this season of giving gifts, God’s gift to you is the gift of Godself—if you’re willing to receive it.
Advent peace and joy,