–by Susan Weiser Mason
“Late Winter is a song of longing, with a slow beat and no melody.”
In acupuncture, Winter is associated with dormancy. Yet mysteriously, during this season the reservoir gets replenished. So there must be activity within this ‘still time’. A few days ago I could feel that energy with the thaw at work both within the earth and within my chest. It was palpable and nearly made me weep. Something had released. A gate had opened. Suddenly hopefulness and buoyancy flooded through every cell in my body.
Late Winter is full of anticipatory pleasure. It never occurred to me until now, that the act of anticipating Spring might be an essential winter medicine and part of the chemistry of renewal.
Where does Spring come from? It’s not some visitor that drives into town. Spring lives within every organism, needing only a prompt to awaken. Sunlight returns and activates the inborn chorus that is so ready to sing.
If I only look for what I expect to find in this season, I must rely on memory and make comparisons. What is far more thrilling is to pay attention to the quickening going on within my own body as the preamble to Spring starts to wake me up. That is utterly fresh! It is the Spring within me, and not some external event I observe as separate from myself
Attention may be the most basic form of love, as it allows me to be deeply reassured by the energetic cycle of the seasons. Consider for instance how death is implicit when the leaves fall and the tree lets go into the arms of Winter, only to become home to a marvelous gestation culminating in the rebirth of Spring.
Winter is like the Sabbath; the day God rests. We pause out of deference. We accept being subject to a cycle greater than ourselves. In that same way we can surrender to Winter and offer ourselves as a prayer and a promise kept.
By late Winter most of us are on our knees. We’ve been stretched and undone, and are in need of relief. We’ve weathered the dark time in order to be reborn. It has been exhausting but the coming of Spring will be breathtaking! Apparently, being wrung out is not at odds with the promise of renewal. The only caveat might be if we totally ignore Winter’s invitation to rest, and just keep running as though there is only endless Summer. We may not choose Winter, but we live in a place where Winter’s initiation is part of the package. So even if we complain, most of us could not imagine living without it.