Winter is here. The business of the holidays is behind us. I breathe a sigh of relief, hallelujah. Finally I can fulfill my instinct to be still and contemplative. After all, that is what is happening outside.
Around us nature has turned inward and is drawing on reserves. Squirrels savor buried nuts. Deer move slowly and sleep in downy beds. Little birds huddle together for warmth. Plants carefully draw nutrients from roots fattened by summers’ photosynthesis.
Winter is the time of survival and endurance. But it is also the time of mystery. Deep in the earth, seeds are still, but there is a quite rushing, a dreaming. As the outer world becomes bare, our inner lives wake up in a new way. We draw closer to our own spirit. From this place, we can envision our full potential.
The belief that all potential is born out of winter has ancient roots. Christians chose winter to be the holy time despite the fact that Christ was born in spring. Northwest Coastal Indian People hold ceremonies in winter. Storytelling is important during this time. Many cultures acknowledge winter as the season when the unseen world is closer. It is a time to remember our ancestors, and to connect to the roots that have made us who we are.
Winter can be the hard for people to endure in our culture. We are accustomed to living busy lives of doing, doing, doing. And when the glitter of the holidays settles and the stillness and darkness sets in, those fundamental questions surface from the deep… “Who am I, what is my bigger purpose?” If we can become still and access our inner light, we can begin to dream our own potential. No matter what our faith, we are all touched by the spirit of winter.
Now is the season of quietness,
of short days and long fire-lit nights.
Now the focus shifts
to the realms of inner life,
to this calling for purification.
Now we release what is no longer needed,
slither out of that old shell of self
and re-emerge into the world
as the green shoot ascends from the damp earth
after a long winter of dreaming.