“Without darkness nothing comes to birth, without light nothing flowers.” – May Sarton
Most of us would like for winter to be over quickly. The cold and grey days; the ice and dangerous roads; yes, winter is often brutal. But without it, we could not have spring.
Winter is a time of deep growth, of rest, and of waiting. These are the things of life that are often difficult for us humans! However, they are very necessary if we are to grow in the springtime.
I have had times in my life that I thought winter would never end. Times of intense pain and hardship; times of darkness I never thought would end; blizzard conditions! Winter – at its brutal best had taken over my life and soul. As I look back now at that time that seemed to be so stark and cold, I realize that it was then that I was also preparing for much growth to occur when spring finally arrived. And it did arrive. But first I had to endure the winter.
In our spiritual lives, winter is not a place we like to be. We would much rather be in the newness of spring, or the flowers of summer, or the warmth of fall. We must, however, all go through the winter.
In his book A Hidden Wholeness: A Journey Toward an Undivided Life, Parker J. Palmer writes:
“There was a time when famers on the Great Plains, at the first sign of a blizzard, would run a rope from the back door out to the barn. They all knew stories of people who had wandered off and been frozen to death, having lost sight of home in the whiteout while still in their own backyards.
Today we live in a blizzard of another sort. It swirls around us as economic injustice, ecological ruin, physical and spiritual violence, and their inevitable outcome, war. It swirls within us as fear and frenzy, greed and deceit, and indifference to the suffering of others. We all know stories of people who have wandered off into this madness and been separated from their own souls, losing their moral bearings and even their mortal lives: they make headlines because they take so many innocents down with them.
The lost ones come from every walk of life: clergy and corporate executives, politicians and people on the street, celebrities and schoolchildren. Some of us fear that we, or those we love will become lost in the storm. Some are lost at this moment and are trying to find the way home. Some are lost without knowing it. And some are using the blizzard as a cover while cynically exploiting its chaos for private gain.
It’s easy to believe that the blizzard of the world has overturned our very souls. That the soul – the life-giving core of the human self, with its hunger for truth and justice, love and forgiveness – has lost all power to guide our lives.
But my own experience of the blizzard, which includes getting lost in it more often than I like to admit, tells me that it is not so. The soul’s order can never be destroyed. It may be obscured by the whiteout. We may forget, or deny, that its guidance is close at hand. And yet we are still in the soul’s backyard, with chance after chance to regain our bearings.”
He goes on to say that even though we may feel lost in the storm of winter because we haven’t accepted the guidance that is out there for us, the rope is always out there. The rope is running from God’s back door to the barn. It will help us find our way home again if we only grab hold of it.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1: 5