It’s here again – an invitation I have previously declined. My restless self as a teenager preferring the celebrations of summer, expanding into the joy heat brings; light as a spent dandelion clock, stirred by winds promising long uncurling lizard warm days.
And now, I’m to receive the opposite – contracting myself and turning my ear to an internal stirring instead, deep in the belly of the earth. This never felt like a natural rejoice, but a gathered bracing, like holding your breath before bad news…winter.
Without the golden distraction of warm days, our attention can be caught by our internal sun – with the new found contrast of a foggy breath, comes an awareness of our own heat and inner strength. Not just because of the turning in, but because winter raises the stakes – everything is harder in the cold, it tests your worth. My motivation is found at a deeper simmer, seemingly slower to bubble and rise.
If we follow the natural march around us, we too turn our focus inward and down, as trees drop superfluous leaves and only keep their precious energy for their central selves. Everything contracts, to percolate and strengthen. It is true; what you save now you will have to bloom in spring, plant now harvest later. But there is an inherent worth in saving, and not just for the promise of future spending. Saving removes the pressure of extending, like a meditative retreat – the expectation to achieve is removed. This is tricky if you identify with fast productivity – a long romance I’ve been bewitched by; I do therefore I am. But now as we do less, we get to feel ‘who I am really am’, without all the doing.
It’s time to distil our focus to quality, and not dissipate it for the sake of expanding. What do you really want to put your precious energy to over winter? And what are your superfluous leaves that can just wait for the abundant vitality you’ll gain once more come spring.
Retreat and listen to the quiet murmurings of the earth; frost crystals finding their shape, contracting stones with their backs to the dark – the unsung wisdom that comes from going slow. Let go of who you think you are in your latte daily rush and just listen to the slowing water table under the bedrock of your bones. This is the gift offered by winter – value of the slow. Immense gifts come from releasing the expensive foliage of producing, and instead marinating in the quality that slowness brings.
Slow brings focus, attention to detail and quality – like the carpenter hands of the ocean, sanding and shaping stone. Organic cliff edges that arise from spontaneous and patient work bare the art winter can teach, if we accept the invitation.
Happy Winter Solstice (Yule).