The days are short,
The sun a spark,
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
– John Updike
Hello, winter. You’re not officially here yet, according to the calendar, but the chill, stillness, and darkness all speak your name—as do the swaths of holiday decorations and shoppers and parties and expectations.
As I’ve contemplated the onset of winter this year, I’ve been feeling the shortened days acutely. Whereas this fall felt like a burst of energy and possibility, every day lately feels like it is safest approached from the cocoon of as many layers and as few plans as possible. By the time 4:00pm rolls around, I had better be done with most of what I wanted or needed to do that day, because it’s safe to say that my energy and brainpower will set with the sun.
It’s tempting to just be frustrated by this. There’s so much I want to do, after all! I want to write blog posts, visit friends, craft a perfect Christmas-gifting experience for my family—and all of that becomes near-impossible when the majority of those few daylight hours has to be spent on the usual rhythms that keep us sane and alive (food, laundry, tidying, toddler wrangling, etc.).
But instead of being frustrated, I am making a conscious effort to embrace this need for rest. My entire purpose behind starting this blog, after all, was to highlight the rhythms, seasons, and cycles our bodies and the earth go through each day, month, and year—and to help myself and others make room for the rests and pauses we need throughout those repetitions.
Achieving the rest we’d like isn’t always possible, I realize; I can’t really go to sleep at 5:00pm and I’m sure you can’t either. Probably neither you or I are going to completely abandon our traditional gift exchanges in order to have a slower season, either. But we can dial the expectations down a notch (or three), and we can prioritize our activities, and we can (probably) go to bed an episode of Elementary earlier than we did last night.
My hope and prayer for each of us is that even in the midst of holiday hubbub and gatherings, we would find ways to acknowledge the slowness and stillness of this dark, quiet, beautiful, anticipatory season.