Lessons of the Frost

The following is a winter rumination from a beautiful book of writings called Praying Our Goodbyes, by Joyce Rupp. Frost can be a spiritual teacher for us if we just open our hearts and our minds to it.

There are plenty of other winter wonders that can spur our imagination and send us on our way rejoicing. Look around you on a cold day to find your very own wintery spiritual teacher.

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One winter morning I awoke to see magnificent lines of frost stretching across my window panes. They seemed to rise with the sunshine and the bitter cold outside. They looked like little miracles that had been formed in the dark of night. I watched them in sheer amazement and marveled that such beautiful forms could be born during such a winter-cold night. Yet, as I pondered them I thought of how life is so like that. We live our long, worn days in the shadows, in what often feels like barren, cold winter, so unaware of the miracles that are being created in our spirits. It takes the sudden daylight, some unexpected surprise of life, to cause our gaze to look upon a simple, stunning growth that has happened quietly inside us. Like frost designs on a winter window, they bring us beyond life’s fragmentation and remind us that we are not nearly as lost as we thought we were, that all the time we thought we were dead inside, beautiful things were being born in us.
— Joyce Rupp

A Winter Solstice Prayer

The following is an excerpt from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim, by Edward Hays, and speaks to the potent magic to be found at Solstice by shining a light on the darkness, both within and around us.

May we be the light-bearers, the lantern-carriers, for our own souls, as well as others who have forgotten that even the darkest night contains the promise of dawn.

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The dark shadow of space leans over us. . . . . We are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth. As our ancestors feared death and evil and all the dark powers of winter, we fear that the darkness of war, discrimination, and selfishness may doom us and our planet to an eternal winter.

May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night, hope in one another and in all who form the web-work of peace and justice that spans the world.

In the heart of every person on this Earth burns the spark of luminous goodness; in no heart is there total darkness. May we who have celebrated this winter solstice, by our lives and service, by our prayers and love, call forth from one another the light and the love that is hidden in every heart.
— Edward Hays, from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim

A Celebration of Winter Solstice

The following passage about the beautiful learning that Winter Solstices brings comes from The Circle of Life, a delightful book by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr.

May it help you deepen your relationship to winter, and all that it brings to our appreciation of the cycles of the natural world.

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There is a tendency to want to hurry from autumn to spring, to avoid the long dark days that winter brings. Many people do not like constant days bereft of light and months filled with colder temperatures. They struggle with the bleakness of land and the emptiness of trees. Their eyes and hearts seek color. Their spirits tire of tasting the endless gray skies. There is great rejoicing in the thought that light and warmth will soon be filling more and more of each new day.

But winter darkness has a positive side to it. As we gather to celebrate the first turn from winter to spring, we are invited to recognize and honor the beauty in the often unwanted season of winter. Let us invite our hearts to be glad for the courage winter proclaims. Let us be grateful for the wisdom winter brings in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal. Let us also encourage our spirits as Earth prepares to come forth from this time of withdrawal into a season filled with light.

The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight. Soon we will welcome the return of the sun and the coming of springtime. As we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects of winter’s darkness. Pause now to sit in silence in the darkness of this space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you.
— Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr, from the Circle of Life

First Snow

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.
— Mary Oliver (excerpted from American Primitive)