In the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
— Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet
God is as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly—breathe.
― Richard Rohr from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics
It helps to realize that the sun never stops shining, no matter the variety and constancy of the clouds that drift and enclose us.
― Mark Nepo from The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be
There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intoxication so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget. This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway… Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for his dwelling place the core of your own being because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation.
― Mirabai Starr from The Interior Castle
The little deaths of autumn are mild precursors to the rigor mortis of winter. The southern humorist Roy Blount has opined that in the Upper Midwest, where I live, what we get in winter is not weather but divine retribution. He believes that someone here once did something very, very bad, and we are still paying the price for his or her transgression!
Winter here is a demanding season–and not everyone appreciates the discipline. It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy. And yet the rigors of winter, like the diminishments of autumn, are accompanied by amazing gifts.
One gift is beauty, different from that of autumn but perhaps more beautiful still.
Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things. Despite all appearances, of course, nature is not dead in winter–it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring. Winter is a time when we are admonished, and even inclined, to do the same for ourselves.
But, for me, winter has an even greater gift to give. It comes when the sky is clear, the sun brilliant, the trees bare, and the first snow yet to come. It is the gift of utter clarity. In winter, one can walk into woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground that they are rooted in …
… Our inward winters take many forms–failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: “The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them.” Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them–protected from frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spiritual guidance–we can learn what they have to teach us. Then, we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all.
― Parker J. Palmer from Seasons: A Center for Renewal