The power of Waboose (winter season) is a paradoxical power. It is new life cloaked in death, rapid growth cloaked in rest. It is the power of the ice-goddess with a warm heart beneath a frozen exterior. It is the power of new life beginning to throb through an apparently rotting seed. It is the power of snow bringing water to a dry and thirsty earth. It is the power of ice breaking large rocks into small pebbles….It is the power of animals huddling together for warmth, hunting together for food.
For humans, the time of Waboose can be a trying time. For those who live in nature it is a time when the cold forces one to spend more time inside, in closer contact with the people you live with. It is a time of testing of relationships, as the enforced closeness causes people to see things they can either ignore or escape when the weather allows them to be more with the outdoors. It is a time when the forces of nature often cause plans to shift. It is a time, when the North Wind blows her coldest, that you feel the cold in the pit of your stomach and begin to wonder whether you will ever really be warm again. It is a time when nature throws you into yourself so that you have to explore territory that might otherwise be unfamiliar. While it is a time of external rest, the time of Waboose is a time of internal growth.
~ The Medicine Wheel by Sun Bear and Wabun
Tonight marks the longest night of the year. It comes as we share this season of waiting, this time of not yet, but soon. And tonight, we are especially mindful of time spent waiting in the dark. I’ve never sat vigil through a winter solstice. I wonder what it would be like. I imagine that I would be grateful even for one small candle to light the room with the sweeping darkness.
Advent is the season of Emmanuel, God with us. And especially on this day and this night of the Winter Solstice we yearn for God’s presence. It’s easy to get lost in the dark. It’s easy to be afraid. It’s easy to feel as though we are the only one.
The reading (above) from The Medicine Wheel about the time of Waboose (winter), feels so familiar to what is happening internally with grief. The notion of appearing to be dormant and yet, so much happening inside. I’m grateful for this perspective. It feels so true that there is much going on “underneath” as I live in and through these grieving days.
The trees are bare now, the wind seems to move through them faster. The sunsets are different in the winter season, more purples and grays paint the sky. The stillness of walking in fresh snow – making our own path as we go. As today marks a new season may we, too be mindful of changes (great and small) within us. May we give ourselves permission to follow nature’s lead, acknowledging a warm heart inside. May we, like humans have done for generations before us huddle together for warmth.
Restore us, O God, let your face shine that we might be saved:
From the wilderness we spun around us when there was still shelter in sight.
From the strife we sowed between us when we clung to our side of right.
From the tears we drank as medicine for the anxious lies we tell.
From the prayers we said to guard us as our closest neighbors fell.
Restore us, O God, let your face shine as a lantern in our longest night.
(prayer from NDPC worship, December 10, 2017)
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan (now a freshman at Guilford College) and Sam at sophomore at DHS in Decatur, GA.