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February is always a time of cold, gray days, when our seasonal affective disorder kicks in, and it’s easy to let the winter doldrums take over.  But recently I was reminded, that in spite of our lack of Vitamin D, and despite the frozen roads that sometimes disrupt our community gatherings, winter is a special time to pause and give yourself permission to pull back.  

In a book called Wintering, by Katherine May, May talks about the value of observing the seasons of life and sometimes the need to lean into the winter of things.  It’s a time of rest and retreat, of burrowing down and conserving energy for a later time.  Sometimes we need this.  She writes, “We like to imagine that it’s possible for life to be one eternal summer and that we have uniquely failed to achieve that for ourselves.  We dream of an equatorial habitat, forever close to the sun, an endless, unvarying high season.”  But we know life is not like that.  It does have seasons.  Ups and downs.  Seasons of fullness and joy and seasons of struggle and heartache.  

But even when it is not hardship and heartbreak, there are times when we simply need to slow down.  Or give ourselves permission to be in the winter of things, to not feel the push to constantly be living in high summer mode year round.  

May also reminds us that nature does not actually “die” during the cold winter months, only to be “reborn” again in the spring.  It winters.  The trees, they let go of their leaves when making food through its leaves becomes too costly a process to maintain.  But the buds for the next year’s leaves are already in place.  It is just “wintering,” until the time is right again to exert itself once again, and we see the bloom that comes after a period of rest.  

We, too, need a season to retreat.  We need times that allow us to recover and grow deep within our soul’s soil.  So, these winter months I invite you to take stock of the ways in which you need rest.  Find ways for you to winter in your life.  You do not have to live as if it’s high summer all year round.  Spring will come again, but for now, lean into the seasons of life, and embrace your time of wintering.  

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