Entering the “Heart” of Winter Reflection for Lent
“Begin by relaxing. Let your spirit rest … gently let go of the busy things in your mind … allow your body to ease into peacefulness…. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly…. Gradually sink into a quiet place of calm and comfort….
Go within, to a quiet place inside yourself…. When you get there, place yourself in a lovely log cabin nestled in the woods…. It is wintertime, and intricately designed frost is on the windows. Burning wood crackles in the fireplace…. Feel the welcome warmth as you stand by the fire….
Turn and look around the room. See an old, comfortable looking rocking chair and move it close to one of the windows so you can look outside…. Sit down in the chair and look out the space in the window that does not have frost on it. Outside there is a huge maple tree with sprawling, barren branches…. There is snow cradled in the crooks of the brown branches, and one bird with fluffed up feathers is sitting on a twig….
The sun is partially hidden behind gray clouds. Now and then the clouds open and rays of sunshine beam through the windowpane upon you…. The sun is shimmering and sparkling on the snow…. As you gaze out the window, you look more closely at the tree. Notice the small buds on the ends of the branches and twigs…. Each one is tightly closed. Look at how these terminal buds are filled out, full of new life stored inside of them….
You close your eyes and imagine what it must be like to be one of those terminal buds. Let yourself become one of them…. Feel the winter air, cold and unyielding…. When snow falls, it feels gentle and soft … when pellets of rain drop from the clouds, you feel the piercing hardness of the ice…. There are long nights…. In the freezing darkness, you gather the tiny wrappings around you as closely as possible, trusting that dawn will come….
As you wait, you sense within you the new…. Something within keeps moving ever so imperceptibly. It is strong and sturdy…. You wait and wait in the darkness…. Finally, the morning sun comes, but the intensity is not like it was in summer…. Something in you stretches toward light, longs for more warmth, wants to be alive and green…. Notice how every now and then the life inside moves slightly toward the light, stretching just a little tiny bit more….
One day, you notice that the dawn is coming earlier … and the sun feels slightly warmer … the life inside of you stirs with more vigor…. You find yourself smiling, knowing that winter is now waning. You let your mind get a glimpse of green…. A little dance of joy skips around inside of you….
Let your imagination leave the terminal bud and see yourself once again sitting in the rocking chair, looking out at the maple tree…. Remember the courageous terminal bud…. Remember the life within it…. Think about what awaits emerging inside of you, what waits in darkness and longs to be free, to grow.… Take one more glance out the window into winter. Thank the tree and the terminal buds for their secret resilience and their hope…. Return slowly to this time and place.
Questions for individual reflection
- What does your spirit most long for now?
- Is there a part of you that is like a terminal bud, safely protected while it waits to stretch and grow?
- Are there any situations or inner places that seem barren and empty in your life?
- What do you find most difficult about your winter seasons?
- Who or what is most helpful to get you through the challenging and disheartening times?”