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Wintering Through

Parker Palmer writes:

"But 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.

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."[i]

This captures how many of us feel. Pre-pandemic hopes and dreams for life and ministry appear dead. Killed in this COVID-19 existential winter.

How might we respond?

Dormancy rather than death: Some of our plans needed to die. And some died and we will mourn their loss. But we better understand what matters these days. But not everything has died. Much is alive, but dormant. Look with anticipation for what will pop out of the soil. My daffodil didn’t make it through the winter; the thyme did. I will miss the beauty of the daffodil, but I will eat the thyme. What about you?

Winter invites us to name whatever feels dead in us.

  • Name what is dead

  • Name it out loud. What is our in our spirit needs to be said out loud. Expunged.

What is inside is often too subjective, even distorted. Saying it out loud helps us find the true measure, the accurate measure of our loss.
  • Say it out loud in the company of another. We are communal creatures. Allow another to hear, to measure, and to walk with you in your loss.

Wintering through. Pursuing hope and meaning is in our DNA. Victor Frankl the psychiatrist who wrote “Man’s search for Meaning” was interned in WW2 concentration camps and observed this in other prisoners:

  1. Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.

  2. Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life

  3. Only when we can see and accept our lot in life for what it is, can we ever truly achieve happiness and fulfillment.”

We know our why

"He who has a why for life can put with any how." Frederick Nietzsche –

[i] Parker J. Palmer. A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life (Kindle Locations 858-863). Kindle Edition.

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