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The Winter Soul

Now that winter is kicking in where I live here in the Midwest, usually all I want to do is stop moving and hibernate somewhere warm.
When you live up here, regardless of your desire to push forward in some direction of accomplishment and progress, it’s a slowing down time of year. Movement is restricted by the extra clothes you wear, outdoor activity comes to a near halt, and the precious few hours of daylight every day give way to long nights of darkness. If you live in the South you may not understand this process, but the majority of people know exactly what I’m talking about.
 
Growing up I was always a big fan of winter. Nothing is better as a child than waking up and realizing school is canceled because there is so much snow. Then the day was spent building snow forts, sledding, or ice-skating on the river with an occasional break to use the bathroom or have some hot chocolate. Today I am still a fan of winter, not so much the season, but rather what I will call “the winter of the heart”. Now winter is more about the defense of the spirit of the quiet, retreating, and slower paced lifestyle. In contrast to the summery disposition which is happy, positive, constantly seeking and professing a spiritual high, the wintry soul isn’t afraid to inhabit loneliness, suffering, and perhaps struggle.
 
I often focus on the positive side of life, that is, taking the challenges of my life and seeing within them a certain spiritual truth and hope that can carry me through. I would call this optimism or perhaps as it relates to this blog a summery disposition. But we are human after all and there is another side to the summary disposition we would love to have every day. I would have to say that I underachieve in the winter of the soul category, at least in coming right out and embracing and tending to it. Well as I have learned that is not always the healthiest approach.
 
There is a depth in the wintry soul. There is an authenticity that is somehow connected to true joy. Have you ever heard these two phrases? Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth; and Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. There is also this from the book of James:
 
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  (James 4:8-10)
 
So which soul are you? Summery or wintery? Or could you see yourself as both? Perhaps it depends on the season, the company in which you find yourself, the defeats or the victories you are experiencing, the rest you’ve had or the lack thereof. Can’t we pursue both the joy and victory of our faith but bear within it and not deny grief and tragedy? Doesn’t the experience of hope often arrive out of the despair of hardship and toil?
 
As you face the winter months, it’s a good time to consider the winter of the soul. Slow things down. Reassess your life and how you’re living it. Pay attention to what you would cry for. Then wait, don’t act, and see what happens. That last part is the hardest for some of us to do.
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One response to “The Winter Soul

  1. Kumar

    I too enjoy the slowness of the winter. It is calming in ways. It can be humbling.

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