One seasonal metaphor for our life's journey begins with a childhood springtime, blossoms into youthful summer, transitions into a midlife autumnal harvest, and slowly fades into the wintry chill of old age.A lot of us find the journey more complicated than that, and that's another reason Parker Palmer's seasonal metaphor in A Hidden Wholeness caught my eye. He begins the cycle with fall as a time of new beginnings and the scattering of seeds -- very appropriate for someone working with educators! But then comes winter.
The seeds of possibility planted with such hope in the fall must eventually endure winter, when the potentials we carried at birth appear to be dead and gone. As we look out upon the winter landscape of our lives, it seems clear that whatever was seeded in the fall is now buried deep in the snow, frozen over and winter killed. Many demoralized people recognize this “dead of winter” metaphor as an all-too-apt description of their bleak inner lives.
Hidden Wholeness, p.82
At some point in our journey, we encounter winter. Unexpected losses, disillusionment, discouragement, depression, anxiety, additctions...it can take many forms, and it can come more than once, leaving us feeling frozen and fenced in. Palmer himself came through a time of deep clinical depression, and knows that wintry feel well.
Yet when we understand winter in the natural world, we realize that what we see out there is not death so much as dormancy. Some life has died, of course. But much of it has gone underground, into hibernation, awaiting a season of renewal and rebirth. So winter invites us to name whatever feels dead in us, to wonder whether it might in fact be dormant – and to ask how we can help it, and ourselves, “winter through.” Hidden Wholeness, p 82.
(And just in case anyone is wondering, these photos are from last winter. There a a few small flakes flying as I write this, but full-fledged winter has not yet arrived in northern Indiana.)
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.