I love these winter skies…for some reason I get butterflies in my stomach when I see skies like this…and when I think about winter. Perhaps it is because of its gentle drama and melancholy. The response to winter seems to be in the depths of my gut. There is often a deep quietness in these days which comes as a relief from the fruitful productivity of summer. The slate grey clouds and the cold, pale-yellow sun provide a backdrop for the closing scenes of another year in nature’s cyclical play. Who wrote the script for this compelling drama? Who designed the set? It surpasses any I have ever seen. I know I have a part to play in this beautiful and terrible story and I want to do it well.
A couple of Sundays ago, I happened to read this…”Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” It was from a book I sometimes open and read when I need a shot of spiritual wisdom. My lovely husband and me (not using ‘I’ because it sounds so formal), had already made plans to go out for the day to a favourite tree filled place. In my head I held these words “ancient paths” and wondered what the day would reveal. These photos go some way towards representing what was for us, a day of restoration and calm. A day off. Had we been following literal ‘ancient paths’? Am I talking about ley lines or old Roman roads? My understanding of it takes me even further back. Perhaps even to the origins and purpose of our being. Is there an ancient path created for us to follow which is revealed when we connect with the rhythms of nature? Are we not included in nature’s rhythm of growth and rest; activity and stillness? I am utterly convinced that there is an opportunity for us all to live within the flow of work, rest and play; to make choices to follow the ancient paths and find rest for our souls. The ‘crossroads’ implies that there are other ways we can choose to go and that we need to stop, look and listen before making our choice. If we don’t, there’s a high chance of a nasty collision.
So, as far as I understand, trees shed their leaves in the autumn as a way of protecting themselves from the harshness of the cold winter temperatures. If they kept their leaves they would leave themselves vulnerable to damage and disease. Their growth slows down and they rest a while. This means they have a strong chance of surviving and growing stronger the following spring. They are looking after themselves. The leaves are not left as waste…they fall to the ground and nourish the earth, nutrients seeping in and forming a good mulch around the roots of the tree. I wondered the other day as I walked out and smelled the soft earthy dampness of autumn, if we could learn a thing or two. I walk around, holding all these worries and stresses as if holding on to them will somehow give me control of them but instead the opposite is true. Letting go of them will give me more control of myself and my wellbeing. This is better…this is what will give me a better chance of surviving the bitter winds of winter. This makes me stronger and gives me a chance of growing ever taller, providing more shelter and home for those who need it. Giving oxygen to a world desperate for fresh air and hope. Grace to trees. Thank you for them all.