This Is Winter, but Then Comes Spring

by Tracey Rich

let any season that wants to make its call come here
--William Stafford: Be a Person Here

The greater arc of every life passes through seasons, but our personal lives also experience their own seasons. You could be in the chronological, supposed splendid summer of your lifetime while personal circumstances leave you lying in the fallows of a deep winter frost. Or, you could be in the autumn of your existence, but feel the spirited rebirth of spring promise.

The season of winter is making its call for those of us in the northern hemisphere and I am choosing to make it a time of refuge. Universally, winter offers the opportunity of tuning inward and can be a time of reflection. Have you ever thought of going monastic in your heart and mind?

When encountering a radical change, or dare I even say, a stay at home necessity, if we knew at the outset that it was temporary, would we embrace it differently? Could we take the time away from expected daily norms and approach this time and these challenges as opportunities that may not ever come our way again?

If we chose this way of life, whether it be one of solitude or service, as intentional or as a meditation, would we hold it differently? That doesn't mean that we would suddenly hit the bliss or piety button of the devout; nor would it magically enable us to write the great American novel in the empty space of our newfound acceptance, but it might bring a different creative curve to the anticipation, tedium, fear and moments of madness. Could we take a collective Zen approach to a short, but seemingly protracted season in our lives right now?

Some people pay good money for a vipassana retreat or a Zen sesshin. Some have had a romantic dream of a monastic life or participate in a spiritual tradition that fosters time for contemplation. Even as our lives are overwhelmed, could  this be a time of intentional welcoming. Could this be a stepping over a threshold into a kind of fierce grace. Can we hold ourselves in the quiet, fallow, sometimes dark and cold winter of our lives in anticipation of the birth of new spring.

Be A Person Here

Be a person here.
Stand by the river, invoke
the owls.
Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
After that sound goes away, wait.
A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.
Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone’s dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn’t be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.
How you stand here is important.
How you listen for the next things to happen.
How you breathe.

—William Stafford