Blessed is your gift of the Winter,
The icy winds that sweep clean the world;
The bare trees that reveal the glittering stars;
Silent roots growing deep within the land;
Sleeping, resting, going within;
The surrender to the dreaming dark.
For much of my life, I dreaded Winter. My anticipation of its awful dark and cold was so intense, I even let it haunt my enjoyment of Autumn. In fact, I remember wondering how anyone could really like the Fall, knowing it meant Winter was coming.
I grew depressed and despondent as the daylight waned, and was certain I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I found my kindred spirit in the character Momma in T.R. Pearson’s hilarious and brilliant gem, A Short History of a Small Place. Momma could make it through the Christmas holidays and the New Year, but pretty much fizzled out after that.
By February, he writes, “Momma is a lost woman. On February afternoons, Momma turns on all the lamps in the house and sits in the livingroom in one of Grandma Yount’s burgundy boudoir chairs where she applies herself to the same novel she has been reading off and on for six years now…
“But no matter the lamps and the distractions, the last two weeks in February tend to take Momma under and occasionally she frets and cries and tells Daddy how she has to get away from [the town of] Neely, how she has to get away from February, how she’d nearly be willing to die for a spring day.”
That’s how it was for me, and I know that there are many others who more or less feel the same way. Believe me, I really do sympathize.
As I tuned in more and more to the Earth path of spirituality, I discovered that one of its many surprise gifts was that it revolutionized my experience of Winter. Nowadays, I couldn’t feel more differently about it.
I actually love the gray monotony of Winter. I long for the cold, drenching rains that come, or the brilliant, icy sunshine. Snow is only an occasional treat here, so it is a momentous celebration. I relish Winter’s brittle silence, a hush on the land so vast that you can almost hear the roots underground creaking and stretching out.
I bow to blessed Orion, riding high in the Winter sky. I delight in the hip, artful ways people have taken to wrapping knitted scarves around their necks. In fact, I love woolies of all sorts. And I revel in the pleasure of walking in the non-stinging, gnat-, chigger-, tick-free woods.
And speaking of the woods, the only time we can really see Moonrise at our home is in Winter, when the trees are bare. There is nothing more heart-stopping than a majestic buck deer silhouetted in the Winter Moonlight. And I bless the evergreens that punctuate the gentle browns and soft khakis of the landscape.
I love all the busy birds, especially the return of the juncos. How fun it is to see swaths of them, with their little slate gray feathers popping against a fresh new snowfall. It is my favorite time to curl up with long, complex novels. Winter means wood fires, snuggly blankets, slow-cooked comfort dinners and cinnamon spiced tea.
More and more, I find that I need the dark, quiet retreat of Winter. I hunger for the long nights, the silence, the deep going within. Living in harmony with the Divine Earth means that to me, even Winter’s reminders of death are not unwelcome, but fiercely beautiful. I am learning to embrace every part of the Great Turning.
What about you? Does Winter bring you joy or sorrow? What blessings and challenges do the cold dark days bring, in your experience? I invite you to post your thoughts and feelings.