Reflection: The hidden gifts and blessings of Winter

The signs and sounds within our natural environment can be a comforting reminder that change is part of the rhythm of life. Since our last newsletter, the seasons have changed. The southern parts of our country have made the transition from autumn to winter and the dry season has replaced the wet season in the north. There is a comforting familiarity about anticipated change, about the rhythm of the seasons, but now and again this means we can miss the gifts hidden in the familiar.

Winter brings less light and more darkness. It has its own beauty but can also be harsh and uninviting. It is a time of waiting, of dormancy, when nothing much seems to be happening on the surface. Winter is a wonderful companion and mentor for our own ‘interior journey’. Like the world around us, we too need to pause and restore our energies so we can continue to grow. The resilience of the seed in the cold, dark ground brings about the flush of new life with the promise of spring – the fruits of the winter journey.

Winter is a time which calls forth our capacity to trust and to wait, to remember and to carry hope in the depths of our being. Through our Community Service, Education, and Health and Aged Care Ministries, we are called to be messengers of ‘winter hope’ to those who cannot see beyond the emptiness and lack of warmth of their surroundings and who cannot imagine a different future for themselves and their families. Our witness to hope is called to be practical as well as inspirational – winter can be a harsh and lonely time for the most vulnerable in our communities.

I invite you to take some time to read this reflection by Macrina Wiederkehr1. Sit with any words or phrases which strike a chord with you and give thanks for the blessings of winter, for the wonder of God’s creation and for the privilege of being a carer for our Common Home.

There may be other blessings which well up in our heart and which can become your prayer of gratitude during this transformational season.

Annette Schneider RSM


A Winter Blessing

Blessed are you, winter,
dark season of waiting,
you affirm the dark seasons of our lives,
forecasting the weather of waiting in hope.

Blessed are you, winter,
you faithfully guard a life unseen’
calling those who listen deeply
to discover winter rest.

Blessed are you, winter,
frozen and cold on the outside,
within your silent, nurturing womb
you warmly welcome all that longs for renewal.

Blessed are you, winter,
your bleak, barren trees
preach wordless sermons
About emptiness and solitude.

Blessed are you, winter,
you teach us valuable lessons
about waiting in darkness
with hope and trust.

Blessed are you, winter,
season of blood red sunsets
and star-filled, long, dark nights,
faithfully you pour out your beauty.

Blessed are you, winter,
when your tiny snowflakes
flurry through the air,
you awaken our sleeping souls.

Blessed are you, winter,
with your wild and varied moods,
so intent on being yourself,
you refuse to be a people-pleaser.

Blessed are you, winter,
your inconsistent moods
often challenge spring’s arrival,
yet, how gracefully you step aside
when her time has come.

[1 Macrina Wiederkehr and Joyce Rupp (2005) ‘The Hearts Journey through the Seasons: the Circle of Life’ IN: Sorin Books, pp. 233-234]


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