Who would have thought that I would discover the gifts of “Wintering” at the beginning of my second spring.
When I left Manila in late March, I had a few health issues that were bothering me and I knew that this trip would be one that would focus on healing. True enough. A couple of days after I arrived, COVID finally got me after three years of evading it. I look at that bout of COVID as a reset button ushering me into a season of wintering.
One of the first books I read while recuperating was Katherine May’s “Wintering” Wintering, she writes, “is the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can. Wintering is a moment of intuition, our true needs felt keen as a knife.”
It is in a time of wintering where some of our most profound, insightful, and healing moments come. Deep wisdom, May says, resides in those who have wintered, and that we can always choose how to winter. “It is a time for reflection and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order.”
Time here and time away has allowed me much time for reflection and writing in my journal again. Something that I had been neglecting for a while which I really should have not. I am now reminded of how important and helpful words have always been in helping me understand myself and my circumstances better.
It also helps that I’ve found myself in what to my mind is the greenest of all the 50 states. Everyday there is a new trail, a forest, or the woods to discover. In the mornings, and for most of the day, the air is filled with birdsongs. And on sunny days, the skies blanket me with a comforting hue of Carolina blue.
This passage from May’s book, resonates deeply with me: “When I started feeling the drag of winter, I began to treat myself like a favored child : with kindness and love. I assumed my needs were reasonable and that my feelings were signals of something important. I kept myself well-fed and made sure I was getting enough sleep. I took myself for walks in the fresh air and spent time doing things that soothed me. I asked myself : What is this winter all about? I asked myself : What change is coming?”
I must emphasize that my “wintering” has been helped greatly by the love of my husband who cares deeply for me. He who makes sure that I am always well-fed with food to heal and ensures that I get enough sleep each day. Our nature walks are lessons in botany and ornithology. Where I had zero knowledge a month ago, I can now distinguish between a cardinal, a robin, and a mockingbird. I appreciate nature and all of God’s creatures so much more now.
My time here is but for a season, and soon, I’ll be back in the home country ready for another season of life. Life is really never linear, more cyclical, I guess, filled with transitions that make us stronger, wiser, kinder.
May’s words speak straight to my heart. “There are times when everything seems easy, and times when it all seems impossibly hard. To make that manageable, we just have to remember that our present will one day become a past, and our future will be our present. We know that because it’s happened before. The things we put behind us will often come around again. The things that trouble us now will one day be past history. Each time we endure the cycle, we ratchet up a notch. We learn from the last time around, and we do a few things better this time; we develop tricks of the mind to see us through. This is how progress is made. But one thing is certain: we will simply have new things to worry about. We will have to clench our teeth and carry on surviving again.
In the meantime, we can deal only with what’s in front of us at this moment in time. We take the next necessary action, and the next. At some point along the line, the next action will feel joyful again.”