They say there’s a storm headed our way. It’s coming up the coast, leaving New York closed with over a foot of snow. For me…it’s still a lovely shade of gray as I walk down the hill to the coffee shop in the village. I get a chai tea and go down by the water behind the library. The beach is covered in ice. A seagull flies up again and again dropping a clam shell onto the rocks trying to break it open for the meat inside. Behind our house, ice begins to form on the banks of the creek while cold water rushes past. Bare branches black against a gray sky. I love winter.
As I sit now to write in my studio, wood stove blazing warmth, I look out the windows that frame the other end of the room. I wonder how long it takes to see possibility rather than goodbye. Seasons change, life changes. The lesson nature teaches us over and over is to embrace what is now. Winter is an important season of life.
I’m careful. I don’t want to ignore this or busily push past it on the way to something else. I want to see the beauty even in its harshness. I know I need the time and the quiet. I want to sit in this in-between place until I find myself again. That’s what the winter is for. I don’t know what’s next for me…that seems too big a question right now. It’s not the time to push ahead for the answers, it’s time to listen carefully. Winter…its great mystery is in its demand for us to look deeply inside. Is that why people hate winter? I suppose not…people hate winter because it’s cold and windy outside. It’s inconvenient and uncomfortable…like it feels to look deeply inside ourselves.
Writing is the expression I use to empty the words from my chattering mind. I feel an excitement as the words happily pour themselves from the dark places of my brain onto the paper. Writing about observations, no matter how mundane, brings me into the moment. Excitement…even an anxious feeling that I won’t write fast enough and all the words will not get written… therefore will not escape out into the light. This wild writing I do until there is nothing else coming. Is there ever a case of nothing else coming out of your mind…does it ever stop narrating the world as it sees it?
The moment does come…not when the narrating stops really…but when I find myself straining and looking for words. Hoping for something profound. Waiting expectantly. That’s when I know it’s time to put down my pen. Its time to lose myself in something else. Profound thoughts and words rarely happen when I sit poised, pen in hand, waiting. They come when we are completely caught up in the moment and the experience we are having. They happen when we least expect them.
The wind begins to howl outside.
I started a project that I will call a magical book. In it I intend to paint and write, make collage, doodle, but more importantly, I will spend my time looking for magical moments. Whether it’s the way the landscape looks or the sweet kiss I get from my husband to the connection I feel with a friend. I know an important step in changing my perspective is changing my focus. Moving from loss and good bye to possibility simply asks for time and a change in perspective. I want to shift my attention to a place of beauty, celebration and gratitude…because let’s face it…I have an incredible amount to be grateful for. These are the little and the big things that make up a day.
This in-between place doesn’t have to be about goodbye anymore and it doesn’t have to be about the answers to my questions. I want to dive into the place that I am right now and find all the gold nuggets I will call magic…that I am already surrounded with. I believe we need to look for it in all the places it already exists.
We are preparing our home for a warm, safe, cozy winter. Adam is working in the basement humming and singing.
Winter brings with it the opportunity for healing, to be restful and quiet. Light candles, put up twinkling lights, cuddle up under a blanket, build a fire, drink hot cocoa. It’s time to begin the careful work of stepping back to myself.
by Mary Oliver
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.