Winter’s Work

The trees in my backyard acknowledge the cooler temperatures in two ways. One likes to drop its leaves overnight, while the other holds on, slowly changing its colors, shedding a few leaves at a time.

Life has its seasons and mysteries. Sometimes change is almost gentle, and we can take our time letting go. Other endings arrive without warning, brutal in both their severity and sudden appearance. A devastating loss may invite us to grow larger and louder than ever.

Nature tells us transformation begins with incubation, not activity.

When an egg becomes too small for its resident, a baby chick uses its “egg tooth” to chip a tiny opening through the shell. Our temporary lack of forward motion – that frustrating feeling of “stuckness” we’ve been fighting to escape – could be the growth which equips us to cut a new path into the light.

The birth of a butterfly requires more than a caterpillar and a cocoon.

After a butterfly pulls her body into freedom, her first action is not flight. She will not simply unfold her wings like a kite to catch the wind. The butterfly waits, drying and stretching. This expansion, including the hardening of her wings into their proper form, could not occur without an apparent delay.

How often have we wanted to fly away from the cages of our past experience, only to find our wings not yet ready to carry us beyond old limits? Such pauses are not wasted time. In our stillness, invisible forces befriend us, helping us gather strength, wisdom and resilience for the unique journeys we were each created to take.

This season will pass.

I see the deeper beauty of trees asleep in the cold weather, when every forest shows its true architecture. New life waits inside those branches that look barren and empty under the fierce light of a Georgia sunset. If you forget the approach of spring in the darkness of your winter, place your hand on a tree. It knows.