What Winter Requires

Spirit of Life, source of all change:

True winter has descended
in a cloud of swirling snow.
The neighbor is out plowing our road
and the cold weather shelter is open
and awaiting guests.

Winter requires of us
that we move slowly
and pay attention.

Its deep cold and scouring winds
purify our hearts
paring away all that is not essential.

In the silence after snow
we feel our breath
the beating of our heart
whether our belly is full or empty
whether our body is warm or cold
whether we have love or do not.

Only the essentials.

As winter goes on,
help us remember
that we always have love,
in abundance,
surrounding and holding us.

And help us remain aware
of what is truly essential
and make every effort
to ensure all beings have it.

Blessed be.

The Organizing Technique of Snow

One snowflake, when it falls,
is insubstantial.  It melts
the moment it touches the ground.

It is beautiful as it falls,
a unique structure
of crystalline water
so perfect that when we
magnify it to see
we nearly swoon
from sheer amazement.

And yet, by itself,
a snowflake melts
the moment it touches the ground.

Only if many snowflakes fall
and cool the earth
melting themselves in the process
can one snowflake
remain intact.

And then the next one,
and the next,
and the next,
until soon there are so many
that trees are bowed to the ground
and cars are crashing on the highway
and power lines are falling down
and humans must slow down
or die.

This is not the fault of the snow,
let us be clear.
It is just being itself.
We are the ones
who must accept reality
and change.

And if we do—
if we slow down,
and learn to pay attention—
snow offers itself to us for our joy.

O the beauty of it in the quiet wood,
and on the mountain slope,
and falling like feathers from the sky!
The joy of sliding fast downhill
with people we love all around us!

One snowflake, alone,
is insubstantial.  It melts
the moment it touches the ground.
Massed together,
snow has weight, and power,
and brings all of our hurrying to a halt—
and then spins us around
until we are breathless,
and our faces are turned toward joy.

Let us take a lesson from the snow.

Snow Blankets All

Spirit of Life, source of all love:

Now is the season when snow begins to fall.
White flakes drift down like feathers,
covering everything in a soft blanket.
Then it melts away again,
leaving us awash in beauty.

In the past weeks we have witnessed
unspeakable tragedy.
In this week the national election
has set the course of our beloved country
for the next four years.
Some of us feel rage and fear;
Others feel hope and peace.

At the same time as all of this,
babies are being born,
squirrels are hiding acorns, and
trees are going dormant,
that they may live again in spring.

These are times when sorrow fills us,
when beauty amazes us,
when fear paralyzes us,
when joy bursts out in us.

May we know that
whatever we are experiencing now
is all right.
All of our feelings—
all of our complicated, messy feelings,
are all right.

May we know that just as snow blankets everything
equally when it falls,
so are we blanketed by love.
May we be left awash in its beauty.

Blessed be.

Tracks

Spirit of Life,
Mysterious energy that enlivens all beings:

Winter is releasing its hold on this land.

The days grow longer
the sun touches our faces and hearts
the snow grows soft and melts
fresh breezes sigh through the pines
there is a feeling of awakening.

Outdoors the snow still tells stories
of the lives of our kin
by their tracks.

Crows, voles, rabbits, deer…
where they ate,
where they moved in search of safety,
where they rested,
where they flew away.

What stories might be read of our lives
by our tracks?

Would they be stories of frenetic circling,
of worrying at the same old things,
of hurrying and hurrying and hurrying?

Or would they be stories
of tranquil movement
from one task to the next

of stopping to contemplate the beauty
of snow sparkling in the sun,
windblown patterns in a field,
ice heaped along the lakeshore,
the blue upon blue of the water?

What stories might be read of our lives
by our tracks?

May they be stories of peace and beauty.
May they be stories of abundance and joy.

Blessed be.

Storm Damage

Spirit of Life, Mystery beyond Mystery:

A great storm has come
and blanketed the landscape with heavy snow.
Trees are bowed to the ground with the weight of it,
many limbs and trunks snapped completely off.

Winds that howled for days are now still,
and a hush lies over the frozen ground.
People go out to check the damage.

How often in life do great storms come,
breaking our familiar structures apart,
leaving our hearts hushed,
and littered with debris?

But then comes someone to help.
We make our way toward one another
through the frozen silence.
We take hands and survey the damage.

Together we begin to clean up.
Together we begin to make something new.

May it be so.
Blessed be.

Winter Prayer

Spirit of Life,
Source and Sustainer of all:

True winter is now here.
Snow has fallen on the town and the forests,
and the cold becomes ever deeper.

Small trees and shrubs are bowed
by the weight of snow.
They are bowed, but they do not break.
They flex and they bend.

They flex and they bend,
and they hold the snow in beautiful shapes,
and in this way they survive.

Spirit of life,
when change comes,
when we are asked to hold more
than we think we can bear,
may we learn to flex and bend.

May we have faith that we can go on
for at least a little longer.
May we see the beauty of our new shape.

Blessed be.

Deepening Cold and Frantic Motion

Spirit of Life, Source and Sustainer of all,

The water of lakes now begins to freeze
around the edges.
Snow showers fall in great veils
between sky and horizon.
Snowflakes swirl madly,
tossed in currents of freezing air.
People rush from place to place
in a frenzy of holiday preparations.

In this time of deepening cold and frantic motion,
let us take a moment now and then to be still.
Let us find our calm center.
Let us take a breath, into our belly,
and let it out.
And another, in, and out.
And one more, in, and out.

As we find that calm center
let us become aware of our hearts,
these hearts that can feel so much:
love, joy, sorrow, pain, anger, fear. Love.

May our hearts be warmed
by each other’s presence.
May our hearts be strengthened
by this good company.
May love abound here,
and may we share this abundance of love
with all whom we meet.

Spirit of life and of love,
we thank you for our lives.

Blessed be.

What Winter Requires

Spirit of Life,
Great force of love that moves through all beings:

True winter has at last descended.
Its deep cold and scouring winds
purify our hearts
as they pare away all that is not essential.

Winter requires of us that we move slowly
and pay attention.

In the woods the profound silence
lets us feel our breath
the beating of our heart
whether our belly is full or empty
whether our body is warm or cold
whether we love or do not love.

Only the essentials.

Winter also teaches us about beauty and power.

In the deep cold we can see each single snowflake,
heaped with others.
Each is different from all the rest, and beautiful–
and yet how beautiful they are together,
and how powerful.

Let us keep these gifts close to our hearts:
Deep awareness of what is essential.
Deep knowing of the beauty of each
and the beauty and power of all.

Blessed be.