Welcome, Winter Solstice; in our hearts, we burn warm with all that you offer and all we hold dear.
In times past, the bare-limbed trees, long nights, and biting chill of winter signified to all that the time had come to slow down. Humanity emulated the animals, retreating into cozy dwellings where they sustained themselves on foods harvested late in autumn and passed the time in peaceful reflection. Today, most people proceed ruddy-cheeked through winter’s frosts, ignoring the profound effects cold weather has on their bodies and minds. Yet, the beauty and significance of wintertime cannot be so easily overlooked. As the temperature plummets, leaving the air crisp and the landscape bare, we tend to crave warmth and relish rich foods. The presence of loved ones seems more comforting when blustery winds rattle window panes, and we feel compelled to conserve our energy by engaging in only the most soothing of activities.
Though your daily schedule may remain more or less the same no matter what time of year it is, you will find in winter many opportunities to honor how you are impacted by this most magical of seasons. At first glance, the world may seem desolate during the coldest months. Yet there are many unique and stimulating sensory experiences to be had — in the intricate beauty of individual snowflakes, the patterns of frost that form on your windows, the tang of smoke from wood-fueled fireplaces, the crunch of freshly fallen snow under your feet, and the briskness of the air. Do not be afraid to venture joyfully out into the cold and the snow as you may have when you were a child. A tingling and reddened nose is a small price to pay for a clear mind and invigorated soul. If your body articulates a desire to rest, permit yourself to spend your free time reading, writing in your journal, daydreaming, engaging in artistic pursuits, playing board games, working on a puzzle, or meditating.
Like the tulip and the apple tree, many plants would not blossom in the springtime were it not for the period of dormancy that is the gift of winter’s chill. Their example can inspire us to use this season of slumber to cleanse ourselves of spiritual and emotional detritus like flora shedding lifeless foliage so that we, too, may emerge from under the frost refreshed and renewed when spring arrives.