We are reborn many times throughout our lives. With each New Year we grow and change, becoming more than we were. Time and experience alter us physically, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes these evolutions are brought on by joyful happenstance and sometimes they occur through a trial of pain, illness, loss, or grief.
Early last year, my life came to an abrupt halt. My energy left me, I lost all my ambition and hope for my writing and wish for an independent career. I experienced what can only be described as a small death. I couldn’t feel God, I lost faith; both in a higher power and in myself. Life dragged on in a never ending cycle of exhaustion. I thought I knew my purpose in life, but suddenly I was no longer sure. Was I a writer even when I’d stopped writing? Was I a healer even when I felt unable to heal myself? Was I a good mother even when I felt too tired to give the care and attention I used to? Was I still capable of being a good wife or even a fulfilled human being? I felt lost in all these questions.
I was in fact experiencing a spiritual winter. Spiritual winters kill everything you thought you were and everything you thought you believed. They wipe your slate clean leaving you empty and purposeless. My spiritual winter wasn’t depression. Instead it came on my like an illness of body and soul, an exhaustion so complete that the garden of my life was buried under ten feet of ice. But was it a death or a rebirth into something more?
Like grief, spiritual winters stop the natural flow of living. Like a cold snap, they come upon you unexpectedly; changing the way you view the landscape of your life. Everyone will experience a spiritual winter in their life. It may come to you in the death of a loved one, the illness of a friend or in a change so unexpected that at times it seems unendurable. They occur in every culture, in every religion and in every corner of the world. But as unbearable as they seem, they often end with a melting away of old ideologies and preconceptions, making way for a spring-time filled with new and unexpected perceptions. When old beliefs die away our point of view opens, becomes vast and new forms of understanding are able to shine forth.
I survived my spiritual winter by letting go of the idea that, “This shouldn’t be happening.” I chose instead to love what is and to return to what really matters in my life: my family, my beloved friends, my country, my planet and my faith. In truth, I embraced everything that is good about living and I let go of, and took action against, the things that endangered the way of life I love. I prayed, I protested, I wrote congress and the senate and I reached out to those with the power to make a change to better our world. In reaching out I made a difference, I took back my strength and emerged more empowered to act than ever before. And you know what? It worked! I have seen the results I prayed and acted for. I have made connections with people who have the same passions and ideals while expanding my perceptions and awareness of this great universe we live in.
We all suffer. We all endure the trials and tribulations set before us to make our spirits strong. That is why it is so important to be tolerant with strangers while we remember that inside each person a great story is unfolding. For good or bad, we are all waging our own battles with ego, self-judgment and the often heavy realities that come with living. My advice to anyone facing a spiritual winter is to take action, ask for help and comfort, return mentally and emotionally to what really matters in your life and remember that we are all, no matter our beliefs, in this together.
With Ease and Grace we move forward in Love.