Winter is an important season for me. It is a time that allows for the going into deep dark places, sitting with oneself and looking at the strange scars, and growths, and changes that have come about from the process of just moving through the seasons of the previous year.
It’s alluring to be wrapped in a beautiful sheath of flowers and leaves and spend time trying to maintain them, thinking that that is the you that must be upkept. In truth, more than the flowers and the leaves, you are the trunk, the branches, and the roots. You are the susurrus that is the unique manifestation of the intersection of the wind and you. The flowers and the leaves are what comes and goes of you. They are the laughter of you that celebrates the light and holds the waters that fall. They spring from the truck and branches and the trunk and branches spring from the roots. They don’t do it one at a time though, they do it all at the same time. Ongoing, growing, growth in all directions. The deeper the roots, the higher the branches; the broader the roots, the broader the branches. As below, so above.
Winter comes and all the color falls away. What is left, is what continues. It’s when you can see what unseen things crept in, under the beauty, under the color, while you were receiving nourishment, to infect and infest. You can see the fungus that hid in the shadows, you can see the places where branches are weak or tangled. You can see the rot. Rot grows too.
For me this is where the audit exists. Sometimes I’ll start the audit even before I realize, consciously, that I have. It’s when I look at my being and ask myself, how am I growing? Am I being nourished well? Am I giving way too much to the needs of another tree? Am I taking too many resources from the life around me? Am I impeding the growth of another? What do I do about the rot? Can something new grow in it? If so, is it me, or of me, because of me, or happening to me? Do I need to clear it out? How do I clear it out?
Winter is the questioning time and is only a portion of the process. Spring is the action time. What hasn’t fallen away from the cold truth of ice and snow, I must decide to keep or prune myself. Sometimes I can fool myself into thinking that a particular branch is too beloved to let go of, but it will only cause me greater damage when it is ripped off by a spring or summer storm later (which invariably come). Sometimes the scars and burls and rot seem so great that one can’t see how one can continue to grow and how to move forward. It seem impossible, sometimes, when the winter lingers too long, that you’ll ever regain color. It seems that all that will be left is brown.
The truth is, however, that it is all growth and brown is a color. You may change, and drop branches, and roots may force themselves to the surface, and you may lose bark. That’s ok. It’s life. It may hurt, but that’s life. You don’t really have to have faith for growth to occur. Growth happens with or without your permission. Your attention can direct it otherwise nature takes the path of least resistance. Decide what you will say no to while you decide what you will say yes too. Don’t be afraid to shed branches, or bark, or even roots, if they are causing you to grow in ways that you deem not true to you. You may discover that some of them are not even yours. Decide how you will receive the waters that nourish you, and the light that nourishes you.
In the process, it’s ok if you stay brown for longer than you’d like sometimes.
Brown is still a color and the wind will always find a voice as it moves through you, and it will sing you in all seasons if you let it.
Eventually Spring will come, and it will bring new flowers.