Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Signs of Winter

I went on a lovely walk this morning, my usual 45-minute walk from my house, up and around Volunteer Park, and then back home.  It was a crisp and clear morning, another short break from the heavy rains we have been getting.  The leaves have largely made their floating pilgrimage to the ground.  They now wait for decay to release them into fertile compost for the new growth of spring still hidden deep in the soil.  Most of the branches are bare now, like dark skeletons in ecstatic prayers of adoration to holy sky.  Some of the willow trees still cling to their leaves, while other trees are sprayed red with berries.


There are other signs of winter coming.  The sun works its way low across the horizon.  Even at 10:00 a.m. the shadows stretch long across the ground.  By 3:30 it starts to get dark and an hour later we have descended into full darkness again and there is still another month until Solstice.  I grasp at precious moments of sunlight in the narrow opening of day, catching its hidden explosions in pine needles.


On our hike last Saturday up to Heather Lake we even saw signs of snowfall. 

What would it be like if during this season of holy darkness we really honored the call of nature to move into rhythms of rest and hibernation?  As reluctant as I am to let go of the beauty of fall, I love the gifts that winter brings.  I am grateful to earth for her cycles and seasons.  I celebrate the call of darkness, a time to rest and renew and trust the seeds that lay dormant deep within.  I honor the illumination and warmth fire and hearth provide, and imagine what it meant to my ancestors without artificial light to work by.   What is the call of winter for you?  What gifts do you celebrate?

The wonderful women at the RevGalBlogPals (the web ring I participate in) have declared this to be “Delurking Week.”  In the spirit of Thanksgiving you are invited to leave some small sign of your presence at the blogs you read.  Whether it is just a simple “thank you” for a post or a longer comment, consider this an invitation to introduce yourself if you haven’t already!  You can always use email if you are shy.  I am planning to leave comments on the blogs I read regularly and offer thanks for the gifts of so many virtual friends.

-Christine Valters Paintner

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Kate Kennington Steer

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Kate Kennington Steer’s reflection Heart of Stone. I arrived at February 2023 in a post-viral fatigue fug, feeling beset by depression, with

Read More »

Soul of a Pilgrim Video Podcast Day 2

Blessing for Packing Lightly*Winnowing God, you ask us to release, let go, surrender, and yield all that we canin service of making space for what is most essential. The more we set aside that which burdens us and takes up too much spacethe more room

Read More »

Monk in the World Guest Post: Mary Camille Thomas

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Mary Camille Thomas’s reflection Sitting in Paradise. “Sit in your cell as in paradise,” St. Romuald says in his brief rule for

Read More »

4 Responses

  1. You are most welcome Bette! Getting our for the hike Saturday and walk yesterday were so important to be well-being as I still feel overloaded with work. A lovely list you have, I think I will do a post of gratitude later when I also make some time to do my blog visits. Gratitude and Blessings!

  2. Thank you for your beautiful gifts of nature photos and writings! I especially love this statement, “…the branches are bare now, like dark skeletons in ecstatic prayers of adoration to holy sky.” Just lovely.

    The Delurking Week idea is nice, even if its just a ‘thank you’. Helps us all connect in a simple way.

    The call of winter for me is to try to finish all the projects that have been on my backburner all year, before January 1st !!! ;) The gifts I’m thankful for and celebrate are electricity, internet, friendship, The Arts….and most of all God’s love.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Christine and to all.
    Peace and hugs,