I recently took a walk in the cold woods draped in winter’s blanket. I was attentive to the environment around me. The trees were naked and their branches dark grey and frigid. The ground was covered with a thin layer of snow. I recalled how, just six months before, the same area was vibrant with different shades of green and the earth was abundant with life.
Following autumn’s shedding, winter's air brings a sense of death and loss: increased silence, a lack of sunlight as the nights are elongated and the days are shortened, and the loss of visible life, like migrating birds, fewer plants, and hibernating animals.
We each endure our own symbolic winters many times throughout our lives.Like the changing of the seasons, we all undergo cycles of death and birth. When there is birth, a death will follow at some point. And when there is death, there will always be a birth of something new. We are constantly growing and shedding throughout the span of our lives.
No matter how many times we’ve experienced it, the process of letting go often feels frightening because a death of anything—even if it’s something we no longer require and yearn to release—requires a level of courage we might fear we lack. We can be both ready for change and fearful of the loss that change commands.
However, death also presents an exquisite opportunity for renewal. Like the hibernating animals and naked trees, we also have an opportunity during life’s phases of death to release what must go in order to prepare for the coming season of beginnings. It’s in darkness where seeds are planted and where we prepare to take our first breaths.
Everything first enters the light from the dark.