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Winter Wisdom

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 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?

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17 Responses

  1. Christine, I think the last time I was visiting your space here, I responded to your poetry party invitation in which a photo of Petunia’s paws featured, so my heart sank when reading your news today. I am sorry for your loss.

    Little wonder your body has told you it’s time to stop for awhile.
    May the rest enfold you, rebuild and restore you.

  2. Christine, I believe your beloved Abbess Petunia entered the Communion of Saints when she was adopted by you. She knew only love those last four years and that is how heaven begins.

    I love your image of winter and its calling us to rest and stillness and the work that is interior. It helps me to appreciate what I have been through the last couple of years and not to be angry with myself for how it has been.

  3. Christine, I am so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful canine companion and muse she was to you. My heart and prayers are with you and may your body heal of it’s sickness soon.

  4. Christine,
    I am sorry for your loss of your dog. Although I had never met Petunia I am sure that you have many memories of Petunia that you will cherish.
    Blessings to you as we approach the Thanksgiving Holidays,

  5. The tears rise again on reading your post; we lost our beloved Westie Seamus only a few weeks ago.

    May rest restore your health.

    May your Thanksgiving be filled with the bounty of His goodness. Blessings.

  6. Hugs to you on the passing into the Saints, of your dear Petunia. She is undoubtedly gathered with others around the feet of St. Francis…lots of love and untold numbers of meadows, streams and what-not to explore!

    Here, we are in Day 3 of the First Snowstorm of the Year. As winds blow fierce, creating drifts and wind chill, I rest in my warm nest with prayers, reflections, knitting and needlework.

    May peace rest on you and yours as a mantle of new-fallen snow. :-)

  7. Rest in Peace, dear Abbess Petunia; what a joy it has been to receive wisdom from your photographic poses; each of us who visits this blog will be missing you.

  8. Oh Christine I’m sorry. Losing a loved animal is so so hard.

    Thank you for sharing your winter season with us though, and the reminder of why we need these fallow times.

  9. Christine, A few days ago, out of nowhere, I thought of you and Petunia. I was thinking about the painting project Marcy had done for you and how much I loved those winged dogs, and I wondered how Petunia was doing, knowing she was getting on in years. I am so sorry for your loss but I know that you know it is not truly loss, that she continues on in another, most spectacular form, and will always and forever shower you with her love and light. Much peace to you.