Sacred Connections: Wintering
For some of us, “wintering” was what some people did to escape the cold and go to a warmer clime during our colder months. For some that is still a deeply treasured tradition, a way of life. However, for many of us, we may feel more enclosed by winter than ever before with this year’s overly generous snowfall and frigid temperatures. My dog SweetP, with her very short dachshund-like legs, has been quite challenged to navigate her usual familiar territory. Whatever terrain I have shoveled in my efforts to assist, has not been met with enthusiastic acceptance.
“Wintering” is also the name of a book by Katherine May, that Rebecca Morehous and I will be discussing with any who have an interest in joining us on two Sunday evenings during Lent. The subtitle of the book is what spoke to both of us: “The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times”. Katherine May describes “wintering” as “a season in the cold…a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider.” Given all that has gone on in our outer and inner worlds, it feels comforting to have a name for this season of life many of us find ourselves in; and it’s also comforting to have others with whom to share our stories.
It is that ability to share our stories that seems so integral to keeping us connected. Nancy Schwartz, with the help of so many, compiled a beautiful annual report for Church of the Redeemer this year. It was filled with our stories, everything from worship and membership, to loving and feeding our neighbors, purple pansies and face masks, our extraordinary CARE Team and so much more. Each page was a story of our journey together, and in each story, we could see the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our midst. It is an annual report that prompts reading cover to cover, because the stories are our stories, capturing moments of inspiration, delight, perseverance, faith, and most of all our love for God and each other.
This time of physical distancing is also an unexpected invitation for greater connecting. When many of our pre-pandemic lives were so filled with activity there may not have been as much discretionary time to reach out. And as many of us, have grudgingly come to embrace technology, we know we are no longer limited to our own geography. Seeing the faces and hearing the stories of loved ones at a great distance only deepens our appreciation for all we continue to share. Bible Study, Second Half, this week’s Ash Wednesday Worship Services have been beautiful places of gathering unbound by geography.
Years ago, my brother encouraged us to gather as a family at our sister’s home in Florida. There were just the three of us siblings and we had vastly different experiences growing up. My sister is the eldest, my brother in the middle was born five years later, and me the youngest arrived ten years after him. We grew up in a time, at least in our family, where there was less open conversation about many things including illness and death. As we each seek to learn and grow in our individual journeys, we become aware of the broader circumstances that are impacting other’s lives in ways different than our own. I felt inspired to ask my brother and sister how our father’s lengthy illness and death had affected them, since I had been only eleven at the time, and the only one of us living at home.
That question was an invitation for them to share their stories, and they readily did. Hearing the stories of what we had each experienced in our own isolation of worry and grief enabled us to appreciate the profound impact such a circumstance and loss had had on each of us, whether we had been in grade school, college, or newly married at the time. The stories bridged the gaps of years, and likely gave us more understanding as to how those experiences helped shape each of our lives. I can see now; our father’s death had been a time of deep “wintering” for all of us. I wonder how it might have been different had we been able to share our stories at that time.
As we continue to walk together, and talk together, let us listen intently to each other’s stories. We will encounter the Holy Spirit in our midst throughout our winters and the stories of our lives.
Tags: Sacred Connections Blog