The Gift of Winter

The weather for the last week has been unusually beautiful with  warm, sunny days and cloudless blue skies. But winter suddenly slipped in this morning with an unexpected fall of snow,  just to remind us that the season is on its way and perhaps encourage us with this moment of beauty.

It is possible to feel a pause between the seasons, to sense that something is about to change. During this pause, before the dark storms of winter finally swirl upon us, it is good to reflect upon the gift of the coming season. The miracle of winter lies beneath in the darkness and silence where the work of death and resurrection of the seed takes place. The harshness above hides the growth and change happening below. Without this hidden work of nature there would be no spring. So in a sense winter is the most important season.

We are not separate from the basic laws and cycles of nature. Perhaps as we experience the immense and often chaotic changes both individually and globally which are taking place in this twenty first century, we should remember the words of Max Ehrmann, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should…”  (Desiderata.)

The secret gift of winter then is trust, trust that what we perceive with our five senses is not the full picture. so “in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul…”  This is not a time to sink into fear and despair but to trust that what lies beneath is a process of evolution and change for the better and to trust that the Universe is the one in control of this evolution. Life abhors stasis and must of its very nature, as the compassionate, creative energy of the universe, push towards greater life and balance. This process may require a great shaking up as old paradigms shift and disintegrate and new paradigms are formed. As the service for the Christian burial says, “Life is changed, not taken away.”

It is up to us whether we decide to learn through wisdom or through kicking and screaming, struggle and pain but learn we will as all is brought back into balance. The Trumps of this world are the catalysts put on the path to challenge us to change. Their very behaviour forces hard questions into the light so that we are pushed to question the very fundamentals of how we live and how we want to live, how we have all individually and collectively created this hate and violence in our world. Healing requires courage and brutal honesty if we are to shift these dark times into the light. Winter has its time and its purpose but the new growth of spring will only come  when the work of winter is complete. As the lyrics of Tom Paxton’s 1970’s song states, “My own life is all I can hope to control, so let my life be lived for the good, the good of my soul…Peace will come, let it begin with me…”