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Invitation to Poetry: The Gifts (and Challenges) of Winter

Welcome to the Abbey’s 54th Poetry Party (it has been long overdue)!

I select an image and suggest a theme/title and invite you to respond with your own poem. Scroll down and add it in the comments section below. Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog (if you have one), Facebook, or Twitter, and encourage others to come join the party! (permission is granted to reprint the image if a link is provided back to this post)

On Sunday, January 15, I will draw a name at random from the participants and the winner will receive a free registration spot in my upcoming online art retreat for the season of Lent – Soul of a Pilgrim (February 22-April 7, 2012).



I adore winter trees.  Something about their bare beauty, revealing their essence against a pale sky, makes my soul sing.  They remind me that winter calls us to shed what is not necessary and turn inward, seeking the gifts of silence and stillness.  A winter landscape demands that we slow down to receive its invitation.  There is no rushing through this season.

I have a fascination with bones for the same reason.  Something about this return to our own essence offers up a powerful invitation to me.  In Paris I have gone to see the catacombs, a sacred burial site underground of the bones from millions of bodies that were deposited there.  Being in their presence elicited a deep sense of awe and wonder at the lives that once animated these skeletons, the brilliant minds contained in those skulls, the passionate hearts once beating within those bodies.  And knowing that one day I will also be rendered into the essence of dust and bone.  It can be a painful knowing, but one that brings me to a sense of cherishing life, of savoring its beauty.

I invite you to write a poem this week about the gifts (and challenges) of winter.  What does this season call forth from you?  Where do you seek greater restoration and the nourishment that only darkness can bring?  What are the challenges you experience as you wait for the light to return?

If you are one of my beloved southern hemisphere readers, feel free to image the far-off winter season, or share with us what you are discovering about summer’s gifts this year.

*Please note: Some folks are having trouble with the comment feature – I am looking into the issue, but if you are unable to leave your poem please email it to me at and I will make sure it is included.*

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76 Responses

  1. Winter

    Stark the land bleak

    snow and rain fall today

    January in Montreal

    Damp the cold chills to the bone


    There is a Light

    that cannot be




    Be with me


  2. Winter’s Challenge

    The trees speak
    of the chill,
    the coldest season.

    Where is the light?
    When will
    the seasons change?

    The challenge is
    to remember the light.
    It never really disappears,

    But it feels like
    DARKNESS all around.

    It is not easy
    to hold onto hope
    of the spring.

    So, I look to the trees,
    as they wait
    for brighter days.

    1. Winter brings forth the dark days.
      Not just physically but to the soul,
      to thoughts that linger.

      It is a constant push to stay on our path,
      our journey interrupted,

      but when we look to the trees sleeping and quiet,
      we can know that they will soon bring life and joy to our world once again.

  3. The east wind blows and the cold cuts deep.
    Trees barren and shaken are torn.
    Life-giving water is hard and withholds its care.
    In my place of fear – the winter and I are one.
    Waiting for spring, I am uneasy.
    With an axe in hand, I wait.
    Pushed too far and I’ll use it to hack my way out!

    1. What is it about this verse of your creation? To say it’s ‘lovely’ doesn’t seem quite right, given the axe and all…..but it contains images that are well done! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Hi Carolyn,
        I submitted my verse and then went and read the other submissions and found many of them to be ‘lovely’ and immediately wanted to retract mine. But it is what it is and I thank you for your affirmation. W.

        1. I had to go seeking a more definitive word: fierce, it’s fierce – as in ‘keen, intense’ zealous, passionate’…..I like it, alot, your offering.

  4. Winter Tree

    The black spruce trees stick up
    at odd angles from the tundra.
    Struggling, strangled trees that even in summer
    look as if a fire has raged across the earth.

    But as the temperature drops to thirty below
    And the snow weighs down the spindly branches,
    I know it is they who survive where other trees do not.

    I cannot admire their outer beauty,
    But inside, life moves up and down silent thin channels,
    Holding secrets of the way through.

  5. Winter Pantoum (on Christine’s lovely essay)

    Something about their bare beauty
    Essence of dust and bone,
    Painful knowing, revelation
    My soul slows and sings

    Essence of dust and bone
    Only darkness can bring it;
    My soul slows and sings:
    Wait for the light to return.

    Only darkness can bring it,
    Painful knowing, revelation:
    Wait for the light to return,
    Something about their bare beauty.

  6. Winter Beach

    laughing naked babies,
    families, lovers, dog walkers,
    fishermen, birders, tourists, locals

    far down the vast expanse of sand
    one tiny black stickman remains
    in this immense masterpiece

    our winter pores open
    to drink the radiant light
    our winter brains
    stunned by blue
    water and sky
    fire their stagnant neurons

    we leap
    leap into the searing wind
    we let it

    sail us away