A major obstacle to creativity is wanting to be in the peak season of growth and generation at all times . . . but if we see the soul’s journey as cyclical, like the seasons. . . then we can accept the reality that periods of despair or fallowness are like winter – a resting time that offers us a period of creative hibernation, purification, and regeneration that prepare us for the births of spring.
-Linda Leonard, from Call to Create : Celebrating Acts of Imagination
One of the greatest gifts of the seasons to me as a writer and artist is this profound wisdom of cycles, how everything rises and falls and then rises again. Last week I was leading the Awakening the Creative Spirit program with my wonderful teaching partner Betsey Beckman and at one point I shared that part of what I am passionate about is honoring the wisdom of winter and helping others to grow in appreciation of this essential season.
This year winter is calling to me even more deeply. As many of you know, our beloved Abbess Petunia (photo above of her doing what she did best) had been developing signs of canine cognitive disorder these last couple of months. This had manifested itself in severe nighttime anxiety and distress. We tried several ways to treat it, but ultimately on the morning of November 6th, after an especially bad night, we had to make the painful choice to let her go. She did live to be 13 and I am comforted knowing that the last four years went a long way to compensate for the first terrible nine she had. I just wish I could have had more time to love her back into wholeness. I know she has joined the Communion of Saints and will continue to offer her wise presence through the veil between worlds. But the grief is very much there, rising and falling in waves. I miss so many things about her. And so I make space to be present to the sorrow that comes from having loved her well.
This week I got very sick and so my body has been calling me even more deeply into rest and healing. I could resist and try to get things done, but ultimately this is the invitation of winter: To remember that times of hibernation and fallowness are necessary to rejuvenate both body and spirit. That sometimes we have to let go of carefully made plans. Sometimes we have to disappoint others. Our creativity ebbs and flows. When we find ourselves in a time of emptiness or creative block, instead of resisting the season we can practice embracing the gifts offered. They are not necessarily the gifts we wanted. But when we stop resisting we can release into the truth of winter in our lives in this moment. There is freedom in that act of surrender.
The season of winter calls us to periods of contemplation and stillness, to darkness and unknowing, to the grace of rest.
My time of rest and grieving this week have been so important. There is more of both to come.
Will you honor the wisdom of winter with me and allow the grace of rest in?