change, darkness, longing, rest, seasons


The weather here in Indiana has been strange recently. My mom, whose birthday is in mid-January, prior to 2017 had never experienced a birthday in the mid-50s. Last Saturday one of my kids from church turned 16 – she had never spent her birthday in short sleeves at a park. I saw an acquaintance on Facebook yesterday, celebrating her birthday, enjoying the sunshine and warmer air. Apparently, it’s been a good month for those with January birthdays!

Last Saturday, when it reached the mid-60s, I got the spring bug. After participating in the women’s rally downtown, I came home and rearranged the basement. That wasn’t enough, so I broke down the cardboard in our garage, loaded it in the truck and took it to recycling. All while jamming with my ear buds in, wearing a short sleeve shirt and the windows down in the truck. In my mind, spring had arrived!

Unfortunately, some of my plants thought so too. As I was enjoying the unseasonably warm air, I was also worried about my bulbs. I was worried they would get confused and come up too soon. A day or so later, while outside with Denali, I noticed something green in the back flower bed. I went to check and sure enough, 4 or 5 leaves were poking out of the ground. I felt sad for them – how could they be fooled by the false hope of spring? I felt mad at the climate – why can’t you just be winter like you’re supposed to?


I can’t blame the bulbs though. They weren’t the only ones lured into a feeling of spring. I never work in the garage in January. That’s not the time for it, but there I was preparing the garage for the next season. I, too, was under the false impression that winter was over. The colder temperatures and falling flurries today tell a different story – it’s still winter.

It is still winter and that’s okay. I need winter. I’m not ready for spring yet. I may say I am, I may act like I am, but I’m not. I’m not ready for blooming. I’m not ready new life. I need to stay in the darkness a little longer. I need permission to hibernate and stay inside. I need more time to rest and wait and just be.

When I saw those leaves poking out of the ground I knew I what I needed to do. I knew that if I pushed too hard, if I made something happen that wasn’t ready to happen, it wouldn’t last. I knew if I ignored the dark and cold of winter, something would bloom out of season and would fade away too quickly. Those leaves reminded me to wait. Those leaves said, “Not yet.”img_9046

So, I embrace winter. I don’t like frigid cold temperatures. I don’t like the bare trees and the faded grass. I don’t like the endless gray days. But, this isn’t about what I like – this is what I need. Time to rest. Time to look internally. Time to reflect. If I rush this, spring won’t be what I need it to be either. There’s a purpose for every season. Winter is preparation for spring. By waiting, by being patient, I am giving my soul space to rejuvenate and to prepare for whatever will bloom in me next. I honestly have no idea what that will be. Unlike my bulbs spread out all over our yard that I have mapped out in my garden journal, the blooms that will come out of my winter are unknown to me. But, when the time is right, I will see the sprouts begin to break forth from the broken soil and I will know – “Yes! Now is the time.”

Winter is a lesson about the fine art of loss and growth.
The lesson is clear; There is only one way out of struggle
and that is by going into its darkness,
waiting for the light, and being open to new growth.
Joan Chittister


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