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A Period of Winter

One of the things I love about living in a four-season climate is how closely it parallels the changes and cycles of our lives. Right now in my life I am mostly experiencing a period of spring. My life is filled with lush growth, new beginnings and much excitement as I set out on this adventure of improving the well-being of my community through my new business. That has not always been the case.

Several years ago I attended a retreat at Hope Springs Institute during a literal and metaphorical winter of my life. I had diagnosed myself with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) over the course of the last few winters and had set an intention to experience winter differently that year.

I was tired of never making plans during the winter for fear of inclement weather, so I signed up for the retreat hoping to add some self-care to the season. At the same time I was experiencing a period of winter in my spirit. I knew that something needed to change. I was sure of that. But I had no idea how to make that happen. I had spent months desperately trying to find a clear direction or even a next step, but nevertheless felt very stuck and unable to move forward. I continually struggled against the holding pattern I seemed to be caught in.

During one afternoon of the retreat, I walked a beautiful path that winds along the hill behind the retreat center hoping to find insight into what to do next in my life. After walking awhile, I decided to sit and relax for a few minutes on tree stump along the path. Looking up at the trees bare above me, their silhouettes contrasting against the sky, I thought, “No wonder I hate winter. Everything around me is dead.” There was a pause before my inner wiser voice spoke up, “These trees aren’t dead. They’re only resting.”

Suddenly it all made sense. In a few months everything around me would begin to bloom and blossom and grow, and it wouldn’t be because the trees had worked so hard or toiled away all winter or that they finally figured out the right course of action and moved forward with a ten point plan. It would be because it was time, time for them to grow. But right now it is time for them to rest. No amount of worry or fear or doubt could make them bloom any sooner or any later.

At that point I stopped resisting, let go, and accepted the season I was in.

What do we do during the periods of winter in our lives? I believe that we lavish ourselves with self-care; we allow ourselves time to rest up in preparation for the next season; we carve out time to listen to the still small voice inside of us which will give us answers if and when we need them; and we trust in the Divine unfolding of our lives in its own sweet time.

Take a moment to reflect on what season you are experiencing in your life right now. Are you in spring, a time of lush growth and new beginnings? Or summer, a time of fruition and abundance? Is it fall, a time of transition and letting go? Or are you in the winter of your life, a time of waiting and resting?

Whichever season you are in, I pray you can allow yourself to be fully present exactly where you are and to receive the gifts of that season. Also, I hope you will remember that like all seasons, this one will cycle into a new one when it’s time and then a new one again.

As George Santayana said, “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” I promise you are strong enough, with a little help (or a lot of help) from the Divine, to handle any season of life that comes your way.

I used to be hopelessly in love with spring, but now I try to taste the honey in each season. I pray you will do the same.

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