Two weeks ago, a friend and writer colleague, Kelsea Habecker, began a winter writing/posting project on Instagram with the hashtag #whatwintergives. Living in the Sonoran Desert, I find that winter gives some rain and relatively cooler temperatures (sometimes even dipping below freezing at night), but hardly ever any of the snow or winter “coziness” that she pictures—and revels in. (One of my favorite posts shows her praying outdoors, in the snow, all bundled up—but I cannot imagine surviving that!)
However, I feel she’s right on target when she invites us to consider what winter gives us. Beyond the ski slopes and ice sculptures, winter gives the earth a chance to rest, and we can all benefit from embracing that example. During winter, at least when the weather freezes, roots are the only parts of plants that remain active. Winter gives us the silence of snow and the stillness of ice to remind us of our own need to be still and listen, both for our own inner voice and for the voice and vision of God.
I love walking through winter landscapes with my camera in hand, and once did week of retreat in Pagosa Springs, Colorado during winter. I will share some of those winter photos on Instagram this week (yes, with the hashtag #whatwintergives). I revel in the frozen silence and the depth of icy beauty, but seldom experience it all around me anymore.
Traditionally, winter is also the time for a garden to rest, but here in the Sonoran Desert, the only time I can grow lettuce and spinach is in winter, so I have a winter garden (which also includes baby onions, Swiss chard, beets, and volunteer pak choi). Not only that, according to local wisdom, I should have planted tomato seeds or seedlings a week ago. (I have at least ordered and received the seeds, but need to prepare the planting beds—certainly not a time for stillness, though there is a restful quality to digging in the dirt, especially as a break from editing on my computer screen!)
A couple of days ago, I finally made time to reflect back on 2019, business-wise, and to set my intentions for 2020. Winter gives us this change in calendar years, provoking chances to ponder what worked, what didn’t, what I have learned, and what I desire for the year ahead. It also gives me another chance to trust the Holy Spirit, as I step out in faith with no idea of what new clients and projects will appear on my proverbial doorstep this year.
How would you respond to the hashtag/prompt #whatwintergives?
May Sarton once pointed out that winter is a time which highlights the structure of trees and other plant life; form is more evident than color. It isn’t a splashy season like spring or autumn. I enjoy this shift in focus from what is “in my face,” so to speak, to what is more hidden.
Winter gives me permission to stay home more than I often do. It is fallow time to read, reflect, and refresh, to rebuild reserves from which I will be able to draw in the more outwardly focused months ahead.
Ah, thank you, Melissa, for sharing your perspective on what winter gives. I also love the structure of bare trees and other such skeleton shapes in nature. I hear you about staying home more often–though interestingly, in the Sonoran desert, we actually tend to do that more often in high summer, when it’s too hot to be out! Many blessings on your rebuilding of reserves….
Being relatively new at “snowbirding” and certainly with moving into a new house – this winter provides many opportunities – most notably time to reflect on that Benedictine promise of “always we begin again”. I find delight in the opportunity to see the desert with fresh eyes, to renew friendships with dear friends, to reconnect with a faith community – and continue to learn to let go. The new house is smaller and I hope life more simple. I am starting a new journal experience using the Monk Manual to help me be more intentional and focused. Winter here means walking in shirt sleeves and a light jacket instead of bundled head to toe. There is freedom in that! Its all good!
Yes, Joyce, it is all good! I get the sense that snowbirding is definitely different. Hooray for shirtsleeves in winter, and for a simpler, smaller home that reminds us of the need to live simply and focus on friendships and faith connections. Blessings on your letting go, bit by bit!