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It has finally started to get cold where I live, not chilly, late autumn, grab-a-jacket kind of cold weather, but the bite into your skin, creep through your clothes kind of cold that seems to permeate all of your layers and reach down to the bone.
The other day, my daughter and I were walking up to our door when we noticed confirmation of just how cold it had become. Our garden hose had leaked a little overnight and now a horn of pure glass poured out if its mouth, frozen in time as it fell. We marveled at the icicle – the first one of the season! – and then broke it off the hose and carried it upstairs, where we laid it in a bowl and checked in with it regularly to observe what would happen to it. It slowly melted, of course (still fascinating for a three year old!), but from the moment we pulled it off the hose I was struck by the thought that, in winter, even water holds still.
Winter’s Own Kind of Quiet
We tend to fill winter with things that are not quiet, perhaps to keep some of the dark and cold at bay – twinkling lights, candles, seasonal songs. Snowballs fights and blazing fires, which people gather in front of, chatting cozily. Even if you live in a place where water does not freeze, many places have a season when the Earth seems to slow down, to quiet, to rest. And while I love the lights and the celebrations of the season, it is good to be reminded, especially this often-hectic month, that winter is also about quiet.
It is about roots, seeds, life of all kinds, lying dormant under cold soil and blankets of dead leaves. It is about snow spinning endlessly out of a blank sky, whirling and dancing in silence. About animals, hiding and resting, until the sun warms them again. About water, slowing until it no longer moves, until it seems to become something else altogether. Sometimes we need that kind of quiet, that thoughtful pause, that meditative rest.
How To Enjoy The Silence
What can we do this winter, to bring that quiet into our lives? Turn off the TV, and watch birds gather at a feeder outside of the window. Bundle up and sit still on a bench, listening to the sound of the wind as it moves through empty branches. Watch, without speaking, as the crystalline patterns of frost on a warming window slide and bloom like a kaleidoscope of ice. What do we hear, when we allow ourselves silence? What do we see in ourselves, when we hold still long enough to look?
Sometimes we need to welcome that silence into ourselves, to create a space for it, one in which we can just be, like bare trees in winter. They need the break, the quiet, just as we do, in order to bloom again in the spring. There are always songs, sleds, movies and mugs of hot cocoa for when winter’s cold and dark become too much, but a small space of silence, a time out for quiet, is another kind of gift that winter brings.