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