Parker Palmer’s work on the seasons is among the best I have read. The following is a part of what Geri used with our NLF staff team this past Tuesday to help us anchor ourselves in Him. There are few things more important for us as leaders than discerning the season of God -personally and corporately:
Winter is a demanding season – and not everyone appreciates the discipline. It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy. And yet the rigors of winter, like the diminishments of autumn, are accompanied by amazing gifts.
One gift is beauty. I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow. Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things.
But, for me, winter has an even greater gift to give. It is the gift of utter clarity. In winter, one can… see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground that they are rooted in. Winter clears the landscape, however brutally, giving us a chance to see ourselves and each other more clearly, to see the very ground of our being.
Our inward winters take many forms – failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: “The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.” Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives.
But when we walk directly into them, we can learn what they have to teach us. Then, we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life giving, even in the most dismaying season of all.
- How do you name any winters you are in now?
- What gifts might these winters be offering you?