The winds are changing here. More and more mornings greet us with cooler temperatures, carried in on ever-so-slightly brisk winds. I have watched these past few weeks in awe as the leaves have gracefully changed colour; reds and oranges and yellows inched their way onto a new tree, spreading through our landscape with subtlety but also in such an intentional way. And the sight of leaves ever so gracefully and peacefully floating and swirling from their tree tops to the ground has become an elegant dance that calls and beckons us to come outside and play.
Last week, the change in colours was brilliant, though fleeting! On a Monday the reds were so fiery and yellows glowed with an intensity reminiscent of burning bushes and there was a holiness in it, and how could it not take your breath away? Every day that week, I wanted to soak myself in the moment. We drove around with only scenery in mind and just took it all in. A mere seven days later, many of these same trees stand bare, leaves scattered at their base like fallen ashes. Yellows have turned deeper orange and then brown, and are beginning their descent as well, as wintry winds begin to weave through the branches, as though sweeping away the last remnants of a lovely party that must, alas, come to an end.
And now we feel ourselves drawn inward again, huddled by cozy fires and comforted by the warmth of hearty meals bubbling on stoves. And so we nest.
The bustling nature of modernity has perhaps somewhat blurred our connection to nature and her rhythms. So often we are rushing ahead to the next moment that we hardly have time for pause and reflection. We live in an age where it is possible to be connected to literally everything we could think of with a few swipes and taps of our fingers, our technology a form of wizardry in its own right. We can stand in the middle of nowhere and still be connected to millions of other people, accessing information from all corners of the world, privy to the thoughts, ideas and ramblings of people in places we have never heard of or seen. I don’t deny the lure and the comfort in finding the world a smaller place than it sometimes seems. I have so often found solace in knowing that I am not alone in my thoughts, my joys or my struggles.
And yet, there is the yearning for balance. Too much of one season is never a good thing. Anyone who has ever lived through a long and fierce winter can attest to that! Though similarly, anyone who has experienced a seemingly never-ending scorching summer where the heat refuses to break understands the yearning for cool autumn days!
But we all have seasons in our own lives don’t we? We have our very own Summers and Winters, Springs and Autumns. Our very own ebbs and flows, even though sometimes it is hard to place your finger on it. Others times, we know and can distinctly sense the difference in our own season to not only the season outside, but to the seasons of those around us.
There are seasons in our lives that buzz with activity and growth; living them, we feel full of energy and excitement, chasing dreams and passions is what we hunger for, our personal Spring. Our Summers bring feelings of pleasure and relaxation and a yearning to soak in the gifts of beauty around us. Our Autumns refreshing us with their brisk winds, reward us with the harvest and bounty of the hard work of the previous seasons. And our Winters, our own personal dormancy.
Sometimes Winter feels like the end. For many people winter is the dreaded season. I love winter. I cherish the quiet and the insular. For me it is a time for reflection and for renewing strength. Would it be possible to burst forth in Spring without the quiet moments of Winter?
Sometimes Winter does mean loss. Having suffered through my own dark and quiet moments of mourning, perhaps nothing is harder than feeling alone in a season of Winter when others are joyfully celebrating Spring and new beginnings. But in that there is a lesson too. The realization that there is in fact, a time for everything under the sun. And Winter cannot last forever, ultimately we all must come out of it. Even the longest, darkest and coldest of winters eventually gives way to that first spring bud or that brave blue crocus that has the tenacity to poke its head out from under a blanket of snow and stand as a beacon of hope reassuring us that a new beginning is not far off.
Sometimes, our seasons last years and perhaps that is why we do not always recognize them as such, but whether they be short or long they are part of our journey. Our journey of constant renewal and change. Nature’s seasons are always about forward motion; one leg of the journey giving way to the next. And no matter how dark things get, how hard the storm rages, in time the sun shines again, in time a new balance is found. It may not be the same balance as before but it is nevertheless a balance.
As winter inches (or in some places plows) her way towards us now we feel her sting, but we are also given a chance to cocoon ourselves for a short while. And although life around me seems to be bursting with activity and excitement, I am also yearning for a time of reflection and quiet.
Our universe is filled with these archetypal metaphors of rhythm, of seasons and change, of life and death. The rhythm of expansion and contraction is always present. And with it, the reminder that even when things are contracting they will eventually expand again.
As for me, I look forward to a little self-induced cocooning. I am craving colder night and crisp mornings, of more time spent curled up with good books and scribbling away in journals, of crackling fireplaces and hot apple cider, of rosy cheeks flushed from outdoor play, of the stillness of the woods as nature slumbers and the brightness of the stars as they somehow seem brighter in these winter months.
I hope that wherever you are and whatever season in life you are in that balance, joy and hope find you. If you are basking in the excitement of Spring and Summer, may your adventures fill your reserves and take you to places that you never imagined. And if you are contracting and turning inwards to the quiet days of Autumn and Winter, may you find wisdom and peace in the gentle solitude of those days.
And if you find yourself in a Winter not of your own choosing, I pray that hope finds you. I pray that wounds have time to heal and that your spirit finds renewed strength. That even in the darkest, coldest moments, the promise of Spring remains that twinkling, glimmering light that beckons you forward. Spring will come again, birds will sing their joyful songs and the trees will once again come alive bursting with life.