This time of year is so spiritually full for me, I want to burst. The time of the Longest Night at Solstice, literally watching the sunlight come back…the lights of Christmas…the laughter of feasting and the silence of the winter nights. Sacred Time.
And of course those aren’t one-off days. The ubiquitous 12 Days…from Solstice to Hogmanay, from Christmas Dec 25 to the Epiphany (or the Visit of the Magi, or “Little” Christmas) Jan 6th. Days of feasting and friends. Days of looking back over the year – was I the person I wanted to be? do the things I wanted to do? And looking forward into resolving something for the coming year.
And its made possible because of the beauty of Deep Winter. This week was a perfect example of it. That latest blizzard, sidetracking so many plans, brought Awe. Watching the snow come down, and blow furiously, I mellowed into a deep gratitude. The plans were shot so it became a “free day”. I got to really look at the beauty of the snow, and the power of the Wind. And be in awe of the amount of snow (even when I was shoveling it). I was taken aback, brought to tears even, by the sheer magnificence of snow blowing across the 256. The power, the beauty of the muted colours, birthed in me such a sense of wonder and awe, connecting in my heart to others who have walked this land: how did Indigenous people endured prairie winters without the benefit of coal, oil or gas? and what depth of perseverance of the early European settlers to stay.
That pull-you-back-to-reality kind of humility reconnects me to the rhythms of growth, rest & renewal, and new beginnings. It seems that it is mostly when I am confronted by the “you’re-not-in-control” weather, and in the starkness of the season, that I am overwhelmed by the Power that sustains all of Life. The Sacred Mystery that holds us all together, that has been there in the past, and will be in the future, but mostly is known in “the Now”, seems just that much closer.
A gift, for me, of the starkness of the landscape is to be reminded not to be sidetracked by the pizzazz around me. It’s really easy for me to get sidetracked by colours, food, busy-ness and the TV-marathons of the season. Instead the bare trees invite me to spend time this week sitting in the relative darkness, watch the lights and candles, the small fragile lights straining against the darkness that threatens to overtake them, yet lighting up the room. The starkness invites me to see the gift of looking at my life stripped down with honesty: who was I this year? what am I grateful for? what do I wish I had done differently? what gifts did I receive from the mistakes I made, and the not-so-smooth parts of my life? And to look forward to a new year, with it’s 2nd (or 3rd or 116th) chances to begin again, to be the person that is at the core of me, to live connected to the deepest yearning of my heart and the Mystery of Life that sustains it.
The gift of time to look back and be grateful, look forward with hope. And just be here Now in this Sacred Time, for 12 whole days.