Image by Jörg Peter
When Nature changes her seasons, the shift seems effortless, predictable, and inevitable. The new season approaches and the old one retreats. Just as Nature doesn't stay forever in a single season, like it or not, neither do we.
Just as there are four seasons in Nature, our inner natures also experience four seasons.
Spring is the season of new beginnings. In Summer, we grow the fruits of our new beginnings. In the Fall, we harvest the rewards of our efforts, including opportunities to be acknowledged and appreciated for our accomplishments. In Winter we rest, rediscovering our true selves. Without Winter we cannot move into Spring.
Recognizing The Season We're In
We recognize the season we're in both by the way we feel and by the movement of energy in and around our efforts. We know when we are putting forth our greatest efforts, but we don't always realize when we are internalizing our greatest learnings. It's not the level of effort that tells us what season we're in, it's the return on those efforts.
In the Spring of our inner natures, our efforts begin to bring us returns, and we feel compelled to begin new projects, even some that have rested on our shelves for many years.
Our growing bank accounts and acclaim from peers tell us we are now in the Summer of our inner natures. Other people recognize us when we are in Summer and want to celebrate with us. We feel stronger each day, a direct reflection of the intense heat of the Summer sun.
In the Fall of our inner natures, we feel invincible. Everything we touch turns to gold. We are celebrated for our achievements, and we seem to be headed for a permanent place in the winners' circle. Then we feel the first signs of Winter, and everything begins to shift.
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In the Winter of our inner natures, we slow down and feel the loss of outer accomplishments, public acclaim, and/or material possessions. We are doing nothing differently, yet there are fewer returns on our efforts. We feel as if we're coming undone; an old fear we thought we'd put to rest resurfaces.
The more attached we are to worldly success, or to old patterns and people with whom we've identified, the harder we struggle, and the more we struggle the more life unravels before our eyes. We push and pray, ask and beg, but to no avail. Our undoing has a life of its own, and we seem its victims.
Being Asked to Grow In New Ways
If we could stop the action at this point of desperation and say to ourselves, "I realize I'm being asked to grow in new ways," we might consider that this is a time for someone else to shine and be successful. We would say: I wish all who are in the Spring, Summer, and Fall of their lives the joy of their success, knowing that I, too, will enter the Spring of success again. But in the meantime, I can rest, renew, and reap spiritual rewards.
We're like a spent flower in Winter, tired and needing rest and recovery, not from the outer world but from our inner selves. Instead, many of us enter Winter desperate to hold on to the energy of Fall, which slips through our fingers no matter how tightly we clench our fists.
A Time of Spiritual Renewal
Winter is God's time, the time of spiritual renewal. It doesn't mean that we have to lose everything, or even that we have to lose anything. What falls away in the Winter of our inner natures are the outworn trappings with which we identify ourselves.
Whether we're stressed beyond reason or deeply unhappy doesn't seem to matter. We persist in staying where we think the power, money, or prestige lives.
Even though we may be suffocating, Winter releases us from our burdens. We continue to want the things that are identified with outward signs of success: financial status, career, marriage, appearance, clever wit, or brilliant physical prowess. Once relieved of what is burdensome, we climb quickly back into the fray again until Winter once more shows us what really matters now.
As we grow spiritually, our Winters deal more with the interior of our lives. We are prodded again to give up the fears, anger, desires, and jealousies that have grown up along with material success. At first we lose what we think we want; then we lose what we are ready to give up. I like to think of my Wintertime as coming into dry dock to get rid of the barnacles.
Illness is a Winter Opportunity
Mental and physical illnesses are experiences of the Winter of our inner natures. We can't run away from them, so we have no choice but to stay and learn.
People talk about the gift of an illness. The gift is that we've been given an opportunity to heal a dysfunctional behavior or a useless emotional pattern, perhaps from this life and perhaps from past lives. We are offered an opportunity to move to an advanced level of awareness, releasing unwanted patterns of anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, regret, judgment, and loss. Sometimes we're able to release the patterns and the illness instead of our lives.
In the broadest view of life, healing isn't just about changing the body, it's about adjusting our perception and about learning to love. Healing happens when we believe in the power of Love that is in us.
Renewal and Clarity in Partnership
Marriages and partnerships also move through the cycle of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. We tend to get divorced in the Winter of our inner lives, and we tend to come together in the Spring, Summer, or Fall.
In long-standing relationships, Winter holds the potential for rediscovery or bailout. We enter and leave Winter with different minds and hearts. We may come into Winter determined to leave a relationship but emerge knowing we'll stay. Just as Winter snows moisten the earth so that Spring flowers can grow, Winter's tears may awaken a new and glorious Spring for our hearts.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Stillpoint Publishing. ©2002. www.stillpoint.org
Wisdom Bowls: Overcoming Fear and Coming Home to Your Authentic Self
by Meredith Young-Sowers.
Combining story-telling styles and artistic techniques, Meredith Young-Sowers guides us to uncover who we are and who we might become. She tells us that we don't have to become authentic because we already are authentic. Our challenge is to interpret what lies beneath our pain and suffering. Using the image of a bowl as metaphor for each area of our lives—the state of our physical health, the nature of our emotional well-being, and the power of our spiritual resources—-Meredith demonstrates how we can overcome fear and find the blessings in our challenges.
About the Author
Meredith L. Young-Sowers, D. Div., is the cofounder and executive director of the Stillpoint Foundation, a global spiritual community and school located in Walpole, New Hampshire. She is also the creator of the Stillpoint Model of Integrative Life Healing, which is based on the wisdom gained from her twenty-seven years of spiritual practice and work with clients.
Her works include Angelic Messenger Cards, Agartha: A Journey to the Stars, Wisdom Bowls, and the You Can Heal audio program. She writes a monthly newsletter column and presents a monthly audio teaching series, Connections.