Winter is a very important season. Each time of the year has its wisdom, but I wonder if we often overlook the teachings of winter. It does not teach about ‘death’, like many might presume. Not only, anyway. Autumn is about letting go, which is more about ‘dying’ than is this winter rest, though in winter we do acknowledge the letting go that autumn had to endure. In the Northern hemisphere Advent comes to us with winter. It is a time of waiting on the promises of light in the midst of the night; a time where promises of a new dawn, while covered in a deep winter dream, or even in snow, slowly start to emerge in quiet whispers, as if the womb of the earth wants to tell us never to give in.
I learn about the seasons mostly from deciduous trees. In the midst of winter a tree is finally stripped to its essence. Like trees perhaps we too at times are stripped from all that we thought we knew; for some people these are hard times. Winter and Advent are times where we try to prepare for a new start, new opportunity for life. Advent is a season where we make an effort in order to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, this time within our hearts. In Advent we attempt to somehow create space in our lives, so that in that space God can come.
Even soul has its seasons. Look inside yourself and see if you can recognise in which season is your soul this Advent. Listen to the promises that are being whispered inside your own being. The soft voice of God speaks within us each. The season of our soul does not need to correspond to the seasons of the year. If your soul is in spring, summer or autumn at this time, let these other seasons speak to you, as God is present in each of them. Yet if your soul is in the season of winter; a season of resting, recuperating, hibernating, restoring, allow yourself less activity, as much as your circumstances permit, and try to bask in the presence of God’s love. Winter can also be a time of unlearning the necessity to speak on certain occasions so that we can learn to speak out of silence. God comes to us in silence. Jesus came to this world through the silence of the womb and Mary was the first one who embraced His reality within herself. That was her advent. Now in this Advent, let us be the womb for Him, in which the awareness of God will gradually grow within us.
A few years ago in December I went for a walk in the field. I admired the trees, one after another they all stood still, motionless yet strong. By then, most of the winter trees have let go of what was old and one might think they were in a state of waiting, kind of in-between time that comes after autumn and leads up to spring. However, as I observed closer, some of them already had newly formed buds starting to sprout without attracting any particular attention to their existence. As I walked in their shadow it dawned on me how these trees were very much alive – with life happening within. Same is with our souls; interior life can flourish in winter time.
© Iva Beranek (adapted from December 2011)
Photo by © Iva Beranek