Why We Need Winter’s Wisdom
No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter.”
-Paul Sehgan, editor of NY Times Book Review on The Wind in the Willows
I’ve always been very fond of literature, but even more in love with children’s literature. In fact, it is a hidden dream of mine to one day try my hand at writing a piece of middle school literature, but I have to study and practice a lot more before that ever happens.
On my list of favorites, Wind in the Willows hovers right at the top. A simple story about two bachelors, Mole and Rat, their chance meeting, their journeys on the open road of life—and a deepening friendship that walks through the seasons of life, together.
If Winter Had Words, What Would She Say?
If Winter had words, I think she would say, “Every season in life is very, very important. Don’t begrudge me!” (smile)
And I add, we may live in a geographical space that doesn’t “experience” the weather of each season, but we do live in a SACRED SOUL SPACE that does. Our souls move in and out of seasons.
God’s creation of seasons was intentional. Each has something very specific to teach us:
- Summer is a time of refreshing. Kick off your shoes. Put your toes in the water. Chase fireflies.
- Spring is a time of rebirth. Seemingly dead things come back to life. The air sings and everything grows.
- Fall is a time of relinquishing. Reminding us that change is necessary—it means letting go of everything that weighs us down.
- Winter…Let’s ask ourselves again: If Winter had words, what would it say—to me?
Two Winters, Two Surgeries, Two Very Important Life Lessons
The country lay bare and entirely leafless around him, and he thought that he had never seen so far and so intimately into the insides of things as on the winter day when Nature was deep in her annual slumber and seem to have kicked the clothes off. … It was pitiful in a way, and yet cheering — even exhilarating. He was glad that he liked the country undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery. He had got down to the bare bones of it, and they were fine and strong and simple.”
-Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Winter’s words to me, January 2015: Achalasia, a rare digestive disease, “chose me” (in the words of my surgeon), and in response to that, I chose to welcome the why’s and let God use me for His greater glory—however, wherever, and whenever He chooses. The journey to that surrender was hard, I can’t lie, and filled with a great deal of sadness and sorrow. What would “the rest of my life” be like with this disease? How would it change me? How would it effect my speaking ministry?
UVA Medical Center, January 2015.
And, then, nine months post surgery, Kenya called. Never in a million years could I have imagined such a divine invitation. Shocked, at first, and then filled with JOY.
Lake Naivasha, Kenya, Dreams really do come true and when God is in charge,
they are better than you could ever imagine (Ephesians [3:20]).
Winter’s words to me, January 2016: Time to heal. In 1998, I suffered a back injury, Spondylolisthesis, that led me from owning/operating a dance studio (something I thought I’d do forever), to my current ministry of writing and speaking. I remember the orthopedic surgeon telling me, “Living with Spondylolisthesis will be like balancing a tray of glasses. Some days they will be perfectly balanced, others they will tumble here and there. And then, one day, you will know it is time to have it fixed.”
The time came. Late fall, it was relentless. None of my go-to’s were working, Physical therapy, yoga, walking, shots, etc. Nothing worked.
So, my husband and I made the hard decision to get ‘er fixed.
Short term pain for long term gain.
Mary Immaculate Hospital, January 2016, decompression and fusion of L-5/S-1.
The past two years, Wisdom took my hand and gently showed me:
Joy and Sorrow are beloved siblings. In order to experience true joy (and the laughter that comes with that), you have to experience sorrow, on some level. Lebanese-American poet, Khalil GIbran writes of this Joy-Sorrow relationship:
“Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Winter creates sacred space for nurturing our capacity for joy. Days are shorter. Nights are longer. Things around us actually look dead. No “visible” signs of growth. More grey days than sunny days. To the naked eye, it looks like nothing is happening, yet, so much is happening!Both of my January’s have left me feeling incredibly vulnerable, alone, and yet, deeply connected to God. In the darkness of my hospital room, I clung to God and His Word. Little did I know the deep work that was taking place during that scary, silent, and oh so serious time.
My January 2015 prepared me for my October-November 2015 (Kenya).
Embrace “the bare bones” of your winter season.. Both of my January’s (2015 and 2016) have left me “undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery”—both physically (no makeup, jewelry, stringent eating restrictions, enforced rest, no gym or exercise…and so much more) and even more challenging, emotionally. The recovery period for both of my surgeries was about 8-12 weeks, leaving me with a great deal of TIME and SPACE to think about the direction and purpose of my life and ministry. And, honestly, time to think of how I can best serve you.
Winter calibrates. Makes space for us to look at our lives and make adjustments. As I spent time in physical recovery, I also spent time in emotional recovery. The bare-boneness led me to even greater clarity and energy to do what I am called to do. I’m a mover. Sitting still isn’t easy, yet I’ve come to know that I have to practice silence and solitude in order to be the remarkable woman God has called me to be.
Today the snow is falling. Winter is tucking us all in. Making us look at the bare bones of our lives. Asking us to strip away all the layers we have on and get to our core purpose—our undecorated, hard, and stripped of its finery—selves. Reminding us that the deeper our sorrow, the wider our capacity for joy. This is painful, yes, but soon—at Winter’s end—new growth will come and overwhelm us with unimaginable joy.
Please join a community of real women committed to living remarkable lives. We meet every Friday in a private Facebook Group, Be Remarkable Women. Just email me and I’ll send you the invite!