Crisp winter light
casts pen and ink shadow
drawings on every surface;
black iron fences sparkle
with metallic gleam; bejeweled
glass glistens; tree trunks
take on a polished look;
rose streaked sun rise,
burning sunsets mark
our wintering days.
Winter’s sunlight gives clarity.
a distant horizon seems closer,
tasks at hand seem less demanding
as the sun’s warmth suffuses
our wants and waiting, for this is
a hunkering down time.
I am drawn to the sun, fascinated by the slight changes in patterns it produces day to day. From the southwest exposure of my deck, I keep track of subtle differences; tracing the curvature of the rising, shadow making, setting sun. Every day I look forward to an afternoon tea and biscuit break, allowing the sun to reset my disposition. My tea time alters as the earth’s relationship to the sun shifts.
In this winter light as the sun warms my bones. I begin to feel the nudges of aging. The patterns of my life are changing. As I embrace my role as a contemplative elder, I recognize the new turns my life is taking, the new limits, a slower step, a quieter response to life. When people ask about retirement – and that question always comes with assumptions and expectations of a kind of wanderlust of leisure – I more readily tell them what I am “doing”, rather than acknowledge my preferred way of being – sitting in silence observing the natural world, returning thanks for creation, reading and reflecting on the Divine’s unending pathways for revelation. Too much value seems inevitably tied to the external life, what I am doing? The sun conspires with my desire to sit and absorb the goodness of creation.
Ronald Rolheiser in Sacred Fire notes shedding is a necessary step in this journey, that biology conspires in old age to help mellow our souls; that signs of aging are an initiation into another way of life; that physical diminishment matures the soul; that by design this stage is more about reflection than productivity. I am very aware that inevitably these “actions” of “being” generate goodness. In silence I find myself prompted to give from the gratitude and love I experience.
I feel I am a privileged part of an awesome universe. I too want to live as an illuminating spark – now and in eternity.
“What has come into being in Him is Life, and Life is the Light of the World.” John 5:3-5.
May you too find warmth and discover good news of great joy in this wintering season.