The void: winter trees against a frozen sky

Winter is here, and what is there that can be said about this time? This time I think of as the void?

A time before words.

Of stillness and rest. Of glittering mornings coated with frost; of thin, low sun I turn my face towards, craving the memory of warmth.

Stored sunlight

The land is hushed. Flocks of tiny birds gather in the grey dawn to glean the grain our chickens have left behind. They scatter as I approach, as though their very existence is a secret, as though I am not supposed to see them until spring.

I spend long hours in bed, half-awake, reading and dozing and waiting for something that never arrives. I think maybe I am waiting for spring.

We tend the woodstove like an altar. Feeding it with hewn mimosa, burning fast and bright. With madronja, its scaly bark concealing a core that simmers long and slow. With olive, which does not want to burn at all. Which keeps the long summers it has absorbed buried within itself, and will not be coaxed to give them back to us.

Winter is zero

I sank into winter blissfully this year, having steadied myself throughout the transition from summer. Paid my dues, said my goodbyes, released the year that passed.

I told someone about the course I’d run this past Autumn, describing it as a mindful experience to prepare us for winter. Readying us to meet the void.

She shuddered.

The void.

It’s a hard one to swallow, I get that. The word pierces us with a ring of cold emptiness, of blank space. A place where nothing exists, no warmth, no love, no heart.

I first heard winter described this way at the start of the old year, and I have come to love the concept. Beyond the revulsion and the fear, I sense a profund sense of rest. Of endless samasara, of a deep, safe nothingness free from the tumult and the anxiety of life.

The void is the place where I do not fear death; where stillness expands and blankets my busy mind like snow.

Winter is a time where nothingness is welcomed. Where we do not have to be productive, or articulate, or prolific. Where we conserve our energy, dig ourselves deeper within, peep out and observe what we can.

Before the beginning

In the Gregorian calendar we are at the start of the year, but I think of these months as being before the beginning. This is the time before “once upon a time”, the blankness before the story starts up. I am outside of my own narrative, floating in circles, dreaming of what will come.

The stillness, the light.

The soul of the season.

And you?

Filled with energy? Sinking into rest? Bubbling with hopes and plans for the year? Share your winter in the comments below.

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