The transition from fall to winter is always hard. While some romanticize winter with its peaceful, snow white appearance, the bitter chill hits as you step outside the door. You bundle up in vain, your scarf, hat and gloves doing nothing to shield you from the winter air. With the quiet winter series, I want to take a chance to slow down in winter, not for the purpose of hibernating (although that’s tempting) but to reflect.
How we approach winter will affect how we enter into spring.
Will we choose to find joy in a landscape so cold it feels barren? Or will we let the cold chisel away our peace until we are miserable?
Though I have often considered misery a part of the winter season, I hope the questions we will reflect on will show you otherwise.
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As you transition into winter, one where the holiday cheer and warmth has passed, what are you carrying with you?
So much of entering winter is wrapped up in Christmas and in the holiday season that it can actually blind us to what we are carrying. As we’ve run around buying gifts for loved ones, we set aside, like old wrapping paper, the burdens or joys we’ve been carrying with us. Moving forward requires us to assess the weight of the burdens on our shoulders.
I entered the winter season feeling that it was my last winter break as a college student. While I realized this, I was unexpectedly hit with what felt like illness after illness. I spent a good chunk of my winter break in some array of discomfort. And it didn’t help that it was winter. Knowing that the chill outside matched the cold hard reality of my circumstances made me feel more hopeless, not less.
So, after the veil of Christmas trees and holiday stockings has been pulled from your eyes, what are you carrying? Is it an unmade decision? Or is it the weight of one already made? Is it a secret? Or the honest reality of burdensome truth? Is it wisdom? Or is it the wisdom that comes from a fool?
Confront what is weighing you down and hold close to all that is lifting you up. It’s a dangerous thing to be on a journey without assessing what you’re carrying.
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What can you do to make yourself feel at home in winter?
It’s easy to feel at home in fall (it’s most everyone’s favorite season). The colors of the trees are changing and the world is alive because nature has a chance to shine. Our days change pace and our activities alter. There’s something about fall, it just feels quite right.
I myself am a summer girl. The warmth, the endless blue skies, the days of dresses and skirts makes me shine. The only downside, of course, is mosquitoes.
It’s not easy to feel at home in winter. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Maybe you need a ritual. Every night after work, you make a cup of hot chocolate and sit on the couch with the sole purpose of enjoying it. If you’re ironic, you’d probably opt for ice cream to enjoy the cold in the form you like best. For me, I set up twinkle lights in my room. When the world gets dark at 3pm, my lights come on and they glow so brightly. My space is a little cozier and I feel at ease. Twinkle lights are my way of reclaiming winter for myself.
Find something to do the same. Settle down here. You’re going to spend some time in winter. It’s inevitable. At the very least, do winter well.
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How are you preparing to fight the isolation of winter?
In the fall, it’s easy. You can meet at a park. Or there’s that Halloween party. There’s this picnic. Or there’s a potluck. In the wintertime, I never want to leave home. I dread leaving the (usually) warm home I love to venture out into a world full of uncertainty and disruptions and delays (because there’s ice in the road). Literally, when I come in contact with the cold of the outside world, I want to live in a cocoon and come out during springtime. And only then.
But if you’re not careful, you will end up isolated and lonely during the winter. Your hibernation, while lovely, will leave you more disconnected than not. What you gain in warmth you lose in connection. Is that a trade you’re willing to make? I think not.
So prepare. Get out your calendar and your phone. Plan the good times. Put going out for tea on the calendar. Plan cooking chili together. Get a bonfire going and invite your people into the warmth with you. Don’t huddle away on your own. But cozy up together.
I’m horrible at this, so if you see me at a bonfire, I’m only taking my own advice.
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What are you inviting into your winter season?
There’s much out of our hands. Our perfectly controlled worlds are closer to destruction than we can imagine. We are so small and yet I believe we have power. The power to take what we are given and watch as it multiplies. Not by our hands, but by One who is more abundant than we could ever understand.
However small that power is, I believe it is enough. What is your invitation for this winter? Maybe you need to give yourself the invitation to say no when your plate is full. Or perhaps you need to welcome uncertainty and welcome a bigger view of the world around you. Maybe it’s an invitation to a challenge that’ll strengthen you. Perhaps it’s an invitation to be miserable for a little while, and then channel your misery into something better. Or maybe it’s just patience. Waiting long enough to see spring fulfill its promise to you—that something truly is growing beneath the surface. Yet you do not have eyes to see.
Friends, I hope you have been enjoying this mini series here. It’s been a sweet one for me. Hope you’re safe, warm and well!
Gentle reader, let me know your thoughts! What are you carrying in this winter season? How are you making yourself feel at home in my least favorite season? How are you fighting isolation? What invitations are you sending out?
If you want to give me an invitation to your bonfire, I will happily show up!