Winter as a season has never been a favorite of mine. I don’t ski, snowboard or any of that exciting stuff, despite having grown up 15 minutes from a ski resort. I don’t like being cold and seem to always find myself that way. I am not really fond of sweaters. So, I guess you could say I’ve never really been a “winter” person. My girlfriend says that I never really took to the temperature outside the womb. ;)
When I realized that I was “different” in terms of spiritual beliefs years ago, amongst the many other things it did for me was that it gave me some hope I could at least see winter in a different light. And so now I work to embrace this dark season, turn inward and see the sacred side of things rather than the practical inconveniences like snow covered driveways, roads, vehicles, layers upon layers of clothing, my snot infested nose, a horse that resembles a fuzzy mud ball and the fact that the bathroom at the barn gets closed from December to March. Can you say absolute torture????
But, I digress…
I am fascinated with the season mostly from the perspective of retreat and rest. To me there is a reason that fall blazes with color. It is like a last battle for life and light, where soldiers paint themselves for war and rage against the inevitable mass destruction that will leave them scattered along the ground, piled one on top of the other in a quilt of varying shades of blood red… Those soldiers fade and rot and drift away. The Earth swallows their remains and the trees mourn the loss with creaking, bare branches. Then winter comes and says rest everyone. Rest and sleep then someday you will wake again.
Winter is like a self- induced coma that the Earth knows is necessary. The daylight slowly loses a grip on the world. Night creeps in. I’m fortunate that for the most part, my sleep cycle can follow the natural changes in light and darkness. I find myself yawning earlier and earlier lately, by 8PM I am usually fast asleep, my body resting with the natural world. I think it is odd overall that during the season where everything on earth is slowing down, we humans are asked to speed up. Be more social, more active, more engaging, more jolly… Our manner of celebration has definitely lost touch with the natural world as has most of our daily focus.
In the coming days, in the very early morning, before the Sun briefly rises, let us venture out into the cold in silence. Feel the heavy heart of the Earth as it mourns the dead, breath in the moist, cold air, listen to the silence of sleep. This is the hush. We are at the pivotal point in the natural world where Death has come forth and collected what must go deep and rest in the solid, frozen ground. A point where the Sun has retreated against the relentless onslaught of darkness. But, alas, as if our dear Gandalf is saying you shall not pass, the darkness will take what it has collected and slowly retreat, sheltering the Earth along the way, blanketing her with snow and tending to her wounded. And then, in the hush, we will slowly begin again.
Blessings to you all and may your Solstice be one of celebration and joy.