On Saturday some friends and I marked the winter solstice together. We met just before sunset in a local forest, with the darkening waters of the Salish Sea just visible through the trees.
Winter was the first season I ever felt in my soul. Or at least the first one I was aware of feeling.
And since then the seasons have become a deepening source of wisdom and consolation in my life. They’re an inheritance we all share. Something in you knows how to winter, just like the deer and the eagles and the bigleaf maples know.
This poem speaks to my soul-level experience of winter.
I started it a few weeks ago and finished a workable draft just in time to share it for the solstice. But part of me has been writing it for a long time.
Now the leaves have fallen.
The trees are pulling their aliveness
back in from their branches,
down into their fortress trunks
and the dark, subterranean closeness
of their roots.
Every year they let go of
exactly what everyone says
is most beautiful about them
to save their own lives.
The time will come
when you, too, have to drop
all the ways you’ve made yourself
and finally learn how
to sit quietly
right in the center
of your own small life.
Only there can you cry
the tears your life depends on,
as everything you thought you needed
rots into soil.
Only there will you find
the tiny seed
that holds the whole mystery
of you, and cradle it
in the warmth of your body
until the spring.