Reflect wintering

Here is the opening prayer reflection for a silent retreat, the theme was ‘Wintering’. As I sit here looking out to the bleak trees and cold rain, it’s a nice reminder that this is how God designed it to be – a season for everything.

What comes to mind when you hear the word winter?

‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;’

Ecclesiastics 3.1-2

God puts the rhythm of seasons – teaching us that this is to be expected, after summer, there is autumn, then comes winter, and spring will be just around the corner. After the dusk, there is night that is dark, but the dawn is surely coming.

There is wisdom in the way God put them together. We might sometimes be surprised by it, but we are not asked to bypass it or fast forward it. To be present to wintering is seeing that God is still here in the cold, in the dark. God is still doing something. In fact, this is how it is supposed to be.

In winter, we are being invited to do less. Sometimes, it takes work just to survive the cold.

In winter, many things become bare, it is time for the trees to be cut back – but it shows us what is really important here. We might be reconsidering ‘what is important to me?’ ‘what do I really need?’

In winter, we have the opportunity to stop and reflect about the year that was – the time of harvest or the people we are with.

In winter, we might be pondering about our hope for the spring, and what is to come. There are a lot of things happening in winter, even though there isn’t a lot of activities.

In some ways, ‘wintering’ has a lot in common with the wisdom of retreat. We are intentionally doing without something. Without internet, without noise, without talking. We have chosen to come away from whatever else that is going on and be here. Really here.

Tulip bulb

Tulip bulbs require 4-6 weeks of cold for it to flower properly. You can’t plant them too early, or they sprout early in the warmer autumn weather and then die. But they have to be planted when it’s late autumn, so that they will experience a period of cold. Most people advise to put them in the fridge before you plant them!

Tulip bulb needs the coldness to properly grow into what it needs to be.

How does it speak to you – a bulb that required and designed to experience the cold for it to be healthy in springtime?

Planting these bulbs seems to invite us to hold a kind of hope in waiting. A potent way of waiting, leaving it to God to do the work.

What are some of the feeling you would like to plant with this bulb?

What are your hopes that you hold at this time?

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastic 3