February 26, 2009

The Gift of Winter Solace

I am so anxious for Spring! We've had Spring-like days this week. Having read some garden books, I decided to water my seemingly dead perennials. Dawson, eating his breakfast before taking off for school, came out asking, "Watering in February? in Winter?"

"Be not anxious." In my anxiety mighten I miss some of Winter's gift? Thomas Merton wrote, "Love winter when the plant says nothing." Have plants lost their voice just because they aren't green or flowering?

"Take off your shoes, for the place where you stand is holy ground." What in life prevents me from seeing burning bushes? What might I need to shed, like taking off my shoes?

The leaves of summer turned their burning colors and fell, leaving bare branches. Do I read between the branches? What would life be like without the spaces? Do I see and read the spaces? Spaces are still there when the leaves are there but we don't notice them. What might my life be full of so there's no spaces, no room for God?

One by one the leaves let go, a precious emptiness appears in the trees and bushes. The naked beauty can be seen, bird's abandoned nests become visible, night stars now peer thru the branches.

Autumn falls into the womb of Winter. Life waits, snuggled into home, hibernating, gestating, and gaining nourishment. Winter is a time to pause and have spent energy renewed.

The bleak, barren trees preach wordless sermons about emptiness and solitude and the need to wait with hope and trust for new life, rebirth. Winter's inconsistent moods often challenge Spring's arrival. In storms, non-bendable branches might break. Winter is an inner season calling me to be more than I am now.

But Winter does cramp my style. It's my least favorite season. Though it invites contemplation and reflection, I dislike going out into the cold. Bundling up from head to toe to mittens is imprisoning. I feel locked in. "Let me out!"

But I shouldn't lock out all the cold unpleasant parts of winter, or life. I would lock out the beauty it has to show me. Winter may seem voiceless like a frozen mask, but it's hiding the vibrancy of life. Like the seed, who must surrender to the darkness, the holy space, I need to risk non-doing, waiting in the creative darkness, just being.

But the dawns are coming earlier and the evenings extending themselves. Let me not hurry the solace of the empty spaces, winter's gift. Let me see with the eye of my soul and listen with the ear of my heart. Winter is a good teacher, a season I should embrace.
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