I acknowledge that I am like much of our society when I want to skip winter, unless it involves a pretty snow that is easily drivable in a day or two. It seems the Holiday Season is about bringing as much happiness and light into the world as we can, then we immediately turn to Valentine’s Day where love reigns supreme, and then we immediately skip to swimsuit season.
Unless we enjoy winter sports, we try our best to ignore the short, gray days of winter, and the sadness that often accompanies them. Sting released an album of winter music, “If on A Winter’s Night,” ten years ago, and he gave interviews at that time where he discussed the importance of diving into winter and embracing what it means spiritually. When we just try to survive winter—to skitter through in anticipation of bright, sunny days—then we miss an important aspect of life.
In the past couple decades, our society seems to have become more and more obsessed with being happy. The pursuit of happiness appears to take precedence over anything else in our lives. We do not see the value in things that do not make us happy. Many years ago, I met with my wise spiritual director, Susan, and I remember telling her I just wanted to be happy. She responded, “Perhaps wanting to be peaceful might be a better option. Happiness can be superficial and doesn’t really speak to your soul.”
True peace only comes when we face the gray days of winter. If we try to ignore those times in our lives, we will not truly know peace. As many of us are confronted with grief about the many losses in our lives, we know that ignoring or denying grief does not help us process it. Just like winter—we need to sit with it and honor it, so that our hearts and souls might move towards health and wholeness.
I invite you this winter to observe a full winter. Find times of quiet. Reflect on the purpose of your life. Do not fear the darkness, knowing that it will shed light on the easier days. Dive into winter—the cold, the lack of light, the isolation—and look into what your soul says to you and the gift that you are to the universe. We will appreciate the warmth more fully when it comes and be able to grasp the deep peace which truly does bring joy into our lives.
Rev. Amy Rio