It was a beautiful day. The sun angled her morning light—trees casting shadows across the new fallen snow. The temperature had risen to a balmy 25 degrees—a veritable heat wave! More birdsongs drifted over the unmarked snow.

My heart was here—present—slave to the moment—absorbed. My soul sang with joy at the world of wonder that enveloped me.

And then I notice something. The picnic tables, snow laden and waiting, seemed to huddle together as if they were talking. They seemed to be in a winter convention, telling stories of better, less lonely days. They were remembering butts sitting on their benches, elbows leaning on their tops, chicken-fry crumbs staining their wood. 

And they seemed anxious for warmer days when snow would disappear and children would play around their legs while adults sat and spun stories into the air. They longed for the crowds of people, all nationalities, coming to share food and fun in the open spaces.

How is it that I created this fantasy? After all, I was so connected to the icy moment of sun and snow. Joy in the morning light had so overwhelmed me and here I was creating a table convention about warmer weather.

I think we are such complex and interesting creatures. We can celebrate the present with complete absorption—fully present to the world as it is—and at the same time lean into longing for a day that lies un-lived before us. At the same time winter wows us spring seduces us.

What an amazing thing to live this human journey!


Sometimes it is just a picture. The winter sky chills. The sun, shrouded by faded, feathery clouds, struggles to do it's heating best. But, alas, to no avail. The frigid north wind reaches its icy fingers into the atmosphere and rips sun's spreading light. 

I watched this unfolding sky with fascination and curiosity. I was so overwhelmed with its contrasts and  the cloud's solar runway that I couldn't erase it from my mind. But, thoughts about it's meaning would not come unstuck so I could write them. So, today, it is just a picture for your reflection.


I have finally figured out what is going on.  I have winter brain.

Winter brain is like the black walnut tree’s naked stems scratching the gray cold sky. There are marks suggesting thoughts, but they don’t create clear images. I stare at them and just when it seems they might reveal themselves, a frigid wind comes along and scatters the marks. The minimalist painting won’t stay in place long enough to form a coherent thought. And the glimpses of ideas that do exist in my brain seem to go into hibernation. They refuse to be found so I can share them with others.

This brain is so different from the baroque summer brain. When it is warm, my brain is filled with little creaturely ideas racing around, chasing each other. Ideas gather in little clusters, and like an intricate baroque paining, get embellished and flow with a flourish.  The fruits hang heavy on the trees and there is plenty of low-hanging thoughts to fill the senses.  

But winter thoughts trouble me.  They cause me to feel so unproductive. Will those seminal ideas ever return?  Will I ever be able to write and share again, or will they resist filling my mind and leave it cold and empty?

But, I am tired of worrying. And I am tired of the fear that they will continue to be as illusive as a butterfly in a snow-storm. I have decided to embrace winter brain. I have decided to accept the infertile ground, to rest in the space between the scattered minimalist marks.

And in the emptiness, I will trust that the frozen earth is doing what it needs to do—protect the seeds of fruit from the snow and cold. And I have given myself to waiting—sometimes patiently and sometimes impatiently—for the thaw that will soften the hard soil and yield fresh green plants who bud with the promise of abundant fruit. When that happens, I will share what gifts I receive with those within whom I share life.


Shadows lengthen. Night comes earlier and morning later. We sat in the sun this afternoon, soaking up the last of the warmth. Temperatures begin to drop tonight and stay south of 50 for at least the next 10 days.

We rolled up the garden hoses, de-leaved the gutters, emptied the potted plants on the deck. The winter hiking clothes are neatly stashed in the trunk of my car so, come what may, I will be out in the healing creation.

Outside is getting tucked in as we prepare for the darker, colder season of the year. The question is now before us, “How do we prepare our insides for this time?”

Along with wood brought from the woodpile to the staging area closer to the door, it is time to start making plans for warming our home with healing connections. It is time to make plans for friends to come and eat and drink with us. It is time to plan a couple of parties for family land friends. It is time to clean out the closet again and give more unworn clothes for those who have no warm clothes and too many of them who have no warm shelter.

And it is time to slow and settle into the darker days and let them speak to us. New seeds can germinate in space where there isn’t too much light. Hints of hope can sprout in the mystery of broken suffering. Insights can flicker into candle light, maybe even brighter light to clarify future’s path.

Winter is waiting. May it be a blessing.