If fall signals the retreat of nature — as when the last leaves fall from the trees and countless creatures crawl into nooks and crannies to pass through the bone-chilling days to come — then the first day of winter, December 21, is when nature — having gradually withdrawn her forces — reaches a resting point. Now comes a three-month period of time that represents a pause in the activity of life.
Great lakes, ponds, and streams freeze over; the earth grows hard and unreceptive. Tree sap stops flowing. Even the air becomes dense, slow to move, and heat stealing. Yet, not everything is as it appears to be!
The pervasive stillness and deep silence of winter are powers every bit as great as are the explosive forces of spring and summer, only different. After all, what is a glacier but a vast frozen river crawling its way through time? Both are forms of water whose unstoppable might can carve their way through solid rock! So, how can we channel this power of winter, and use it to let go of whatever stands between us and the higher life we desire?
Winter is the time of the year when the forces of nature assume their most passive form. But passive does not mean powerless! Consider the micro-pause between each beat of the heart. Is the heart less alive, made less potent for the brief rest it takes in its own beating? Of course not! In each such moment of its repose we could just as easily say that it is gathering itself for its next pulsation. In other words, its temporary passive state is actually a measured act of preparation. So it is with the “heart” of winter.
The better we understand this unique power of being “passive”– and how it serves as the secret consort of all things active — the more we grow in the faith we need to be wisely passive toward whatever fears remain in us about letting go of our false self.
The winter season can be the most challenging in terms of learning to channel its powers to help us let go. But, we may also have this timeless assurance: we are really created to enter into the perfect stillness from which we came. And for our return home — by entering into the bare infinity that is the center of our True Self — we arrive where we have always longed to be…without ever having had to set out. Here we make this last, glad discovery: the task of letting go, of separating ourselves from who and what we need no longer be, has already been done for us.