As I write, we are midway through January and snow carpets the ground and brightens a dreary wet month. January used to be a time to take things at a slower pace; long evenings to read, sew or do jigsaws…. to rest and recover from the joys and demands of the busy Christmas season. Despite my best intentions, this slower pace has so far evaded me!
In a world so full of communication: by letter, e-mail, phone, text, WhatsApp, Twitter and Tweet…… one sometimes craves silence and space.
My escape is to take the dog for a walk in the Winter woodlands up the lane opposite our house. Every day is different, my experience changes with the light and the weather. The low rays of slanting Winter sunshine illuminate the trunks and throw lanky shadows onto the neighbouring field. Human Society never sleeps; roads hum with traffic; factories roll out products and cities throw their light into space….. but nature takes seasons of rest. The trees lie dormant, buds sleep, awaiting the warmth of Spring to burst forth with renewed energy. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt from the natural world about living well; about slowing down and waiting for the right time to act or speak.
In the bare winter woodland, we more easily observe subtle changes; the bulbs pushing up from the carpet of Autumn leaves; a robin on a branch; a catkin unfolding. When we take time to still ourselves, we are more alert to our feelings and those of others; more able to be present and compassionate. Jesus took time in nature and shared the wisdom it teaches: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:26-27)
By the time I next write, we will be into the season of Lent which starts this year on February 22nd. Many people give up things in Lent; chocolate, alcohol, sweets and biscuits…. Perhaps an excuse to address the waistline. This year, why not give up busyness and create space; space to become aware of God around us and within us; to listen for his still small voice, to come and find REST. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11v.28)