Monday, February 22, 2010

Winter’s Guidance

Snow falls outside my window. Black bean soup simmers on the stove, and a fire is laid in the grate. As the last of the light slips from this gray day, we’ll pull chairs close to the hearth and eat our simple meal bathed in the soft light of a warming fire.

Winter is here, and I find myself settling into this cold day like a long sigh. It feels so good to be still.

Our lives seem way too busy these days. Nearly every moment is filled with a hustle and a bustle~~a do, do, doing with a compulsive flair. Few of us keep the Sabbath anymore. We allow not one day a week for true rest and reflection. On days like today, I find myself wondering about that.

The world outside my window teaches me, any time of the year, about natural cycles and rhythms. And today it highlights the value of repose.

The vines in my courtyard are mostly bare wood beneath their coating of snow. They waste no energy trying to produce leaves or fiery trumpets of orange during the short days of winter. The trees are likewise bare~limbed, their energy withdrawn into roots nestled deep in the earth. And our vegetable garden lies dormant, with nothing reaching from the soil but last summer’s tomato cages and bean poles.

Outdoors, all is hunkered down and silent. Yet in this quietude, much is spoken of the importance of stillness, about the need for respite. The natural world does not repeatedly urge production. No, times of activity alternate with periods of rest. This is as it should be.

But oh, we humans~~and particularly we modern westerners~~have such difficulty with this concept! It makes me wonder if this might be one reason for some of the imbalance we find in our world and in ourselves.

While serious depressions can come from the diminished light of this time of year, could the milder winter blues stem from an expectation that we operate at summer capacity all year long? If we took our cues from the bears and the snakes, the yucca and the lilac, we just might make it through winter a bit more easily.

So today, I’ll sit by my window and be still. I’ll absorb the beauty of bare branches silhouetted against a leaden sky. And later, we’ll pull chairs near a warming fire and eat a hearty soup, thankful for the hush that surrounds us.

Today, this is my spiritual practice~~not action, but receptivity. Not seeking out, but opening to. Not effort, but repose. Ahhhh.

May you, too, be filled with the hush of winter.


Loanne Marie


Anonymous said...

To find such peace must be heavenly!

Loanne Marie said...

Yes, it is. And I believe this peace is available to us all at every moment~~if we can unlearn the busyness of mind, heart, and body that tends to keep us spinning. I think this is what the specific spiritual practices are for~~the unlearning of these habits so we can experience the peace that is there, always.

Thanks so much for writing. And I wish you the hush of winter.

Anonymous said...

I think you are correct. The "winter blues" or seasonal affective disorder may not be so much the lack of sunlight as the product of our culture. I must be doing, doing , doing something all of the time, or feel guilty at my laziness. You call me to reorder things. To sit quietly in Centering Prayer, to meditate, to be at peace like a hibernating bear. The season for planting and growing will be at hand soon enough. Recuperate, consolidate, do good for others and not for myself. Ah, peace. Stirling

Loanne Marie said...

Yeah, it's that ol' bugaboo again~~balance. While there IS a connection between depression and the amount of sunlight, it does seem that the cultural plays a large role. Lazy and repose are two different things all together, and it's good to remind ourselves and each other of that.

Thanks for writing. And enjoy your hibernation! Zzzzzzzz

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Leia Marie