A glorious blizzard has kept us home for the past two days. I walked out early yesterday to enjoy the snowfall. The air was warmer than I expected and the snow was heavy and wet. The woods were magical and the trail deserted.
The sky told of the blizzard to come.
By the time I’d turned back, high winds were causing very low visibility and the snow stung my face and hands.
Phillip started plowing early, but eventually stopped to let the winds have their way.
We decided to watch movies, eat Christmas cookies, and enjoy our snowday. The winds howled furiously throughout the night. We were both awake until after one o’clock and then dropped off, despite the wind’s wailing. We woke to find a lovely old ash tree had fallen across the drive.
While Phillip removed the tree, I watched feathered visitors bob up and down in the birch tree, risk flights to the feeders, and then fly quickly back their perches.
Tonight, the winds have quieted and we’re all hoping for a peaceful Solstice sleep…after more Christmas movies, a toasty fire, and popcorn to celebrate.
Wishing you all a season of light and eruptions of joy…
May I offer joy and gentle peace today and every day. May I take time to pause before I judge, before I criticize, before I punish myself or the other with thoughts, words, and energy that is anything but calm, loving, compassionate, and forgiving.
May I remember and hold close to my heart the awareness that we’re all here together; may I help heal myself and others by remaining mindful and intentional about my presence, my needs, and others’ rights.
Everything passes; may it pass my awareness with love, and may I look for the joy, because it’s here, within and without. May I be love to my friends and to the strangers I’ll meet today.
May no one cross my path without feeling respected, worthy, seen, heard, and loved.
May I hear the invitations to transformation that call to me today, and be willing to travel the paths that will lead me to greater authenticity, deeper self-knowledge, and greater compassion.
May I be kind. May I be aware of any thought or behavior that moves me out of the state of love. May I grow in balance, wholeness, and wisdom.
Our first annual snowfall graced our Sunday (Bon Iver!), and we relaxed into being with the wonder of it. Huge flakes covered the trees and earth; the river, surrounded by white hills and flowing beneath the smoky gray sky, took on a brilliant silver sparkle, like a glittering ribbon threading through the landscape.
Winter is the season that calls me within, to slowly and gently review the journey of the dimming year and gestate the light with which my spirit will co-create the year to come. What gifts have served me well? Which have I neglected? How will I dance out my life in the new year? What are the triggers that hook me to harmful ways of being and what are the deep desires I ask of Spirit to further challenge and delight my heart? Am I tending my time, health, and relationships, respecting the treasures they are? Am I putting anything off because I’m afraid of failing? Or succeeding? Can I begin, alter, or renew a spiritual practice? Is my energy aligned and in communion with my beliefs, and do these translate clearly through my speech and actions?
Last year, I wrote about my “hibernaculum,” the meditation room where I spend my deepening time each day. It becomes more deeply sacred to me in winter. As I wrote: The word “hibernate” is derived from the Latin word for winter (hiberno: I winter) and generates the wonderful noun “hibernaculum,” which, zoologically, is the place where an animal winters, and, botanically, is the protective bud or covering a plant uses to survive the challenges of dormancy. I love that the letters of the word “hibernate” form the anagram “breathe in,” for winter is my time for assessing, deepening, and strengthening my meditation practice and more earnestly tending my dreams.
Nothing engenders these days of gentle and vital introspection more for me than the lovely snow that muffles the noise, busyness, and demands of a world too addicted to all three. When it’s snowing, traffic slows, heartbeats slow, breathing slows, and sometimes magically, the limiting need to avoid our inner voices and knots dissolves as well.
Sitting in my meditation space and looking out towards a full moon making the snow-covered earth sparkle and glow with mystery, or witnessing the iced river and white hills afire with the deep violet, indigo and scarlet of a winter sunrise remind me that all of life is a magical gift, and that the finest way of offering my gratitude is through the inner work and discernment accomplished in stillness, that helps me be as present to all of it as I can.
I wish you a winter of gentle peace, times for deep introspection, the stillness to bring forth your renewed light to the world, and gentle snow (real or imagined) to blanket you with the shimmering beauty and mystery of spirit-tending.
Today I’m making a hearty soup and enjoying fresh breezes kissing our rooms through open windows, a sweet delight for the cats. This is the new and unpredictable norm for December, for nothing about our climate this past year has hinted at what’s coming next.
This past weekend we found ourselves alone and together, with nothing scheduled and surprisingly caught up with other life-maintenance tasks…so we relaxed.
Honoring days of rest, like tending to self-care, were themes often discussed and put forth as goals, but rarely practiced authentically in our busy lives, up until a year and a half ago; I’m happy to say that since dedicating ourselves to our version of a “slow life,” we’ve gotten better at this.
This weekend, we watched holiday movies, went for long walks, took Riley and Clancy to their favorite dog park, grilled a wicked good meal out on the deck, enjoyed our unusually warm weather, and listened to Christmas music while we read, nestling with various four-leggeds.
My spirit felt bathed in light and peace, utterly relaxed, and utterly grateful.
At many points in my past life, this would have been a weekend neither noted nor savored as remarkable, other than for its record-setting high temperatures. Now, I treasure moments of happiness, ordinary time made extraordinary by the attention and appreciation due and accorded it. I notice all the ways Phillip deepens and refines the energies of my life, and I isolate blessings as they drift through moments and settle in my heart.
This photograph of my parents, taken the April before their wedding (Ah, April in Minnesota!) sits beside my bed. I love the sweet joy they seem to feel in each other’s company, the hope that exudes from their spirits, still.
Years later, when he was 65, my father suffered a massive stroke that caused his next 15 years to be lived confined to their home, my mother choosing to serve as his caregiver. I spent as many vacations visiting them as I could, and often lamented the sadness and “littleness” they now had to endure, rather than all the joyful adventures they’d planned following my father’s retirement. This hadn’t been foreseen and wasn’t fair. And I thought I should be closer, geographically, to help more.
I vividly recall the time my mother said, “Oh, it isn’t all bad. We have good conversations and we laugh a lot. Your father’s been able to know his grandchildren, and we’ve enjoyed working on his writing together. Good friends have blessed this time for us…and here’s the thing, Kitty: your job is to tend your own life. We never know what sadness may be in store for us, what challenges lie ahead. Enjoy each other and the blessings that come your way as deeply as you can while you’re able, and take nothing for granted.”
“Time held me green and dying,” wrote Dylan Thomas in the haunting poem, Fern Hill. I know my sweet dog companions will be 12 this year, and Finny the cat will be 11. Phillip and I are in our mid-50’s…not old, but no longer green, and, like all of life, gradually living towards our dying. These facts are not all-consuming, nor entirely depressing to one who gardens and honors life’s circles and spirals, but they certainly contribute to the poignant attentiveness brought to bear on moments when we can be here, now, all together in peace, joy, and relative health.
At one time, I would have considered such a weekend dull and unproductive. How lovely that the gauges by which we assess our lives change, and how grateful I am for a companion with whom I can share and value simplicity and stillness, ordinary days made precious just because we’re together, grateful and aware, no matter what’s coming down the pike. Because the climate of any relationship is always changing, forecast or not, and deep reserves of joy, daily kindnesses, and simple, commonplace moments of laughter and love help us to weather the storms and shifts, expected or surprising, whenever they arrive.