This is my fourth attempt at writing this post.

It’s frustrating, but each prior effort has quickly taken an unwelcome turn – far out of alignment with my vision for this space. In the wake of the horrific events of last week, climaxing an already challenging year, my frame of mind is out of sync with how I want to communicate here. I’ve been experiencing such strong negativity– deep sadness, intense anger, utter helplessness and crippling fear – and I can’t find the words.

I had planned on this post being about the process of “wintering”.  But try as I might, I just couldn’t get where I wanted to go without my emotions taking over. But now, on my fourth try, as I think about it, maybe I can still use this theme and maybe, just maybe, it is precisely the right topic to moderate all this personal angst I’m feeling. Maybe…

So now I force myself to think about how much I have always loved winter above all other seasons. I’m certain this atypical preference is rooted, in large part, in my introversion. Wrapped in winter’s solitude…silence…stillness…even its darkness – I am secure and at peace. Additionally, there’s the hardiness of winter foods, the bulky warmth of winter clothes, the invigorating impact of outdoor activities and the stinging bite of the outdoor air making the indoor warmth that much more comforting.

Someone once told me that winter invites us to lift even the most ordinary of circumstances into something magically distinctive. Like spending blocks of guiltless time curled up in front of a fire idly starring into the flames, or eating a very ordinary dinner in the glow of candlelight, or listening, and hearing maybe for the first time, your own footsteps softly crunching the fresh snow beneath them. And inhaling the scent of your neighbor’s wood burning fireplace, or being blinded by the glare of millions of stars that can only be seen in a clear wintery sky. Yes, winter heightens our senses, as they facilitate our appreciation of all that surrounds us.  As Mary Oliver says…pay attention…be astonished…tell about it.

Yes, the telling, too, is cathartic during these winter days. For lots of reasons, I find myself turning to my journal more frequently. I suppose it’s winter’s allure drawing me inward. And this winter, especially, as our isolation has been even more acute, there have been large chunks of idle time perfect for introspection.

So, as winter’s chill envelops us during these most challenging of times, I remember that I need to be mindful of all these naturally occurring curative opportunities, these simple pleasures that are innate resources for coping. I need to trust in their ability to temper my ‘winter of discontent’.

As I close, feeling a bit reassured, I call upon Mary Oliver once more to make sense of it all…

Snowy Night

 Snow was falling,

so much like stars

filling the dark trees

that one could easily imagine

its reason for being was nothing more

than prettiness.

I remember that “to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven”.  And I find hope.

Please share with us how you are navigating through these times by leaving your thoughts in the comment section below.