The Space Between the Notes

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“Music is the space between the notes.”  ~ Claude Debussy

The long inhalation of excitement and joy that begins in September and lasts through the Christmas holidays has been exhaled over the past week or so. The decorations are almost all put away—a few are “wintry” enough to last through February, along with a few that foretell Valentine’s Day—and my energy has settled deep within.

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St Coletta sleds, birds, cats 030We attended a post-holiday-holiday-party and several guests mentioned their dislike for the months of January and February.

I nodded sympathetically but remained unengaged with the conversation, because I tend to love the months for their stillness and gifts of time for sifting through recent experiences, re-gathering my spirit, noticing little regressions and evolutions, and seeing clearly where I am on my journey, before heading into the new year with renewed energy. Each new year is like a musical composition my little spirit co-creates with Spirit. Twelve measures of music, or possibly 52, or 365; each a movement of its own. I’m grateful it begins–somewhat non-traditionally, I suppose–with a long rest, so I can hear the music shape itself and its themes for the coming year.

Many of the other guests at the party were teachers, however, and I could empathize with their post-holiday weariness and return to classroom routines.

January and February can be cold and the days are still brief. Their passage can be slow and uneventful and they’re rather anticlimactic, following the long season of holidays and traditional gatherings with friends and family. The crescendo diminishes to silence.

But what an invitation to be creative and start some new traditions!

Phillip and I tend to use these slower winter months to get out of the weekend routine and go on day trips. Last weekend, we traveled to the Wisconsin River area and combined an eagle-sighting adventure with a visit to a well-established and award-winning winery.

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Eagles, Wollersheim, Murphy 099We have a few more adventures planned between now and spring break, and I’m looking forward to them. Sometimes we’re surprised by the fun a new place or experience offers and even if it’s less than stellar, we’re together and, usually, laughing.

This week, I was surprised with a visit from my nephew and his family, a true boost to the spirit. One of the gifts of working at home is being able to say yes (or, as we say in Wisconsin, “You betcha!”) to spontaneous visits.

Andrews Family 015I’ve always thought it would be fun to schedule gatherings with close women friends during these months, to share spiritual stories, practices, books, and films, and to reinforce each other’s spirits and affirm our journeys. We become so busy when the days grow longer. It might be helpful to get together once or twice a month in January and February to transfuse each other’s spirits with renewed energy and share a very-mini-retreat, helping each other get our spirits in tune for the months ahead.

Traveling through the year’s music, its rhythms and beats, its familiar melodies and new improvisations, invites greater intentionality and sensitivity from me than I was prepared or wise enough to offer when I was younger. Letting Spirit be the conductor is easier, however, and I welcome her gift of an initial multi-measure rest, because it allows me to hear her deeper song, the one she sings in my heart and bids me to dance when the music of the year continues.

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Eagles, Wollersheim, Murphy 027(Murphy says, “I crawl under my blanket, watch Downton Abbey, and take a two-month retreat.”)


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10 thoughts on “The Space Between the Notes

  1. What a lovely post. I’m SOOOOOO impressed with the pics of the eagles, and I have to admit….says I a little sheepishly…..a little jealous. I would LOVE to see such a magnificent, majestic bird!
    I feel the same as you, I love the winter, as I love all the changing seasons, but winter does have that special stillness and such dramatic imagery.
    Oh Murphy, aren’t you a little sweetheart!
    I hope you enjoy your adventures and meeting with girlfriends and I look forward to hearing about them.xxxxxx


    1. Oh, Snowbird, now you have a reason to visit Wisconsin! In January! 🙂 There were so many eagles over the winery later in the day, both adults and juveniles. The sun was out by then and they were having a merry time of it.

      Murphy is a character, all right. He loves burrowing under blankets and throws.

      Enjoy your stillness and many adventures…I’ll keep you posted on gatherings!


  2. Loved it K….! The eagles were wonderful but of course you know what I loved best 🙂 Murphy looks most comfortable in his hiding spot. Mine have been lining up in front of the wood stove like planes on a runway…Lazy critters… I’ve been dipping into the seed catalogs and thinking about spring while my feet are up and life is lazy….Chilly but nice! Thanks as always for your sharings….VK


  3. Your sweeties sound like they’re enjoying togetherness and warmth in your cozy home, VK. Murphy says hello.

    Yes, seed catalogues keep me deeply joyful many days! Nothing like garden fantasies to banish gray days.

    Peace to your gentle heart!


  4. A splendid capture of Murphy! And the others too, are songs of praise, love poems to nature. I agree with you about these months… Dare we say… that we love to inhale… but not to exhale. No, the both of them are necessary to breathe. And so the winter gives us a chance to rest our roots, and search our souls and withdraw a bit from the hum and fermentation of life. Snow now in Jerusalem, and stormy weather. We are blessed.


    1. Thank you for visiting, Shimon; I agree that to rest our roots–and search our souls–is a gift. Peace to your resting, and I hope the snows and storms in Jerusalem make your resting all the cozier, and your seeking embraced by peace.


  5. What a beautiful poetic post, Kitty, and the Debussy quote is one of my favorites. I am so glad you enjoy winter. I identify a little more with Murphy the cat, I’m afraid. Winter for me is something to get through, try as I may to appreciate its subtle beauty. The short days and cold temps conspire to send me to the comfy chair by the fireplace, where I can dream of longer warmer days to come. The winery sounds like a good idea, though!


  6. Ah, Lynn, Murphy Days (Daze?) are gifts to the spirit as well…and all my friends know what I mean when I say, “I’m taking a Murphy Day.” Many of them have incorporated these, too…days we stay in jammies or comfy clothes and sit with books, movies, silence and then naps. My guess is that you’re so very creative the rest of the year that your energy needs re-booting during winter…my story and I’m sticking to it! I’m pretty sure that one of Murphy’s Rules is to suspend self-judgement…peace to your cozy, pondering, gestating winter and all the beauty it will bring forth.


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