The Blessedness of Winter
"As winter approaches each year, I like to watch our large maple in the backyard begin to lose its covering of summer green and take on a funereal brown. As the leaves drop, one by one all of the irregularities and defects of the tree are exposed. The imperfections are always there, of course, but they have been hidden from my view by an emerald blanket. Now, however, it is denuded and desolate, and I can see its real condition.
Winter preserves and strengthens a tree. Rather than expending its strength on the exterior surface, its sap is forced deeper and deeper into its interior depth. Winter is necessary for the tree to survive and flourish.
Instantly you see the application. So often we hide our true condition with the surface virtues of pious activity, but, once the leaves of our frantic pace drop away, the transforming power of a wintery spirituality can have effect.
To the outward eye everything looks barren and unsightly. Our many defects, flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections stand out in bold relief. But only the outward virtues have collapsed; the principle of virtue is actually being strengthened. The soul is venturing forth into the interior. Real, solid, enduring virtues begin to develop deep within. Pure love is birthed."
(From Richard Foster's book, Prayer)
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I've been feeling this desire lately to shed layers. To do something about this "frantic pace" that keeps me running, so often without rest. To let my calendar lie fallow for awhile. To create space for that "transforming power of a winter spirituality."
But I've begun to wonder - is this realistic? To be able to find that quiet space through external changes to my schedule? I live in a busy city and the pace here is always go-go-go, even in the dark days of January. I can (and will) try to cut back on some of my 'extracurricular' activities, but I can't (and won't) quit them all. Plus, I owe 45 hours/week to The Man. There's only so much I can really do to create external space on my calendar.
So I'm wondering now what can be shifted to create internal space. How can my soul "venture forth into the interior" in the midst of the busy city, my busy schedule? Can I re-purpose my morning commute as meditation time? Can I cut out Facebook in favor of journaling?
What else is currently taking up space on the interior that can be shed? Fear, anxiety, bitterness...yes. All of that. What if I cut back the time spent dwelling on those?
What if. The thing is - I won't (and can't) - not on my own. But it might/could be possible - could start with a prayer: What if.