With the first significant snowfalls over the past week, it seems there’s no getting around it. Winter is here to stay in my part of the world… for several months. As children and youth celebrate the opportunity to play in fresh snow and to get out on snowmobiles, I mentally brace myself for the long months of freezing temperatures, windchill, and barren landscapes. I resign myself to going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, and joking about feeling like a mole.
But, is there another way to look at winter? Does it have to be a season to which we resign ourselves? Is it possible that winter can also be our teacher? Can we gain wisdom and understanding through observation and contemplation instead of perceiving it through jaded eyes? Winter is a time when much of the natural world lies dormant here… a time when seemingly nothing happens. Beneath a blanket of snow, a frozen world lies waiting and quiet. What can we take from this for our own growth?
All my life, I have felt the need to be doing, to be productive, to be accomplishing. When I wasn’t actively involved in doing and accomplishing — in other words, when activities of the external world occupied my attention, focus, and energy — I felt lost and adrift with no focus or direction. If that time extended, I felt more lost, like I was spinning my wheels, not going anywhere and not sure of which way to go or what to do. I experienced this sense of nothingness and frustration because I didn’t seem to know how to handle or what to do with “down” time.
My inner voice seems to be guiding me to look at winter through a different lens this year. Just as many animals retreat for the winter months, I feel drawn to an inner retreat — a time to be quiet and to go within and experience the peace within my soul, a time to reflect and write, a time to practise stream-of-consciousness writing (see my note below) to learn to attend to my inner wisdom and to open to the guidance from my soul, which I know is connected to all other souls and, above all, to God in a cosmic matrix of spiritual energy. I feel called to spend quiet time with spirit. Is this my winter… my dormancy that really isn’t dormant at all?
On the surface, it will appear that I am not accomplishing anything, but just like the new life that prepares to burst forth in the spring within the natural world, transformation will be taking place within me. Inner change is never obvious from the outside on first observation, but it becomes clear in the way we live our lives. Instead of “dabbling” in meditation and stream-of-consciousness writing, I am drawn to establish a daily practice… real, devoted time to my inner work.
I have learned that my inner voice will never fail or misdirect me. In the past, it is only when I ignored or talked myself out of my own inner wisdom that I had to learn some hard lessons. This time, I am paying attention. Will my “spring” reflect the transformation and new life that seems to magically appear from the dormancy of winter in our natural world? It will, if I do my part. It will if I continue to heed the voice of my soul that guides me forward with unconditional love and true knowing.
How will you use winter as your teacher? Can you offer inspiration to all of us who seek continued inner growth and awareness? Please share in Comments below so that we can learn from one another.
[What is stream-of-consciousness writing? You practise this form of writing when you sit quietly with paper and pen and write a question on the paper to which you are seeking an answer (such as Dear God, how can I move forward on my own? or, How can I ease someone’s hurt?) or a more general question that opens you to possibilities (such as Dear God, what would you have me know/understand?). Record what you feel moved to write in response. You will know that the answer is coming from the greater consciousness of your soul because it comes up from within you. It isn’t coming from your head. I like using pen/pencil and paper because the words seem to flow from deep within me through my hand and the pen to the paper. It is like I become a conduit through which spiritual wisdom flows. Try it and experience the wisdom and true knowing that flows from within you.]