Winter is the quiet space between the beats, the interlude after the earth exhales in late autumn, and before it catches its breath again in spring. When spring comes early, and crocus and hydrangea alike are lulled into taking the stage prematurely, the shock of their early glory delights our weary eyes. But the vulnerability of such precocity means that the slightest turn of a fickle sky can cut them cold to the ground.
So we enjoy the early show with a tinge of fear rustling around the edges of our appreciation, because we know it is susceptible to nature's sway, and there is nothing we can do. Like a child pressed ahead by parents beyond the point that his maturity can support, early lilacs run the risk of failing to thrive.
The human heart needs winter, too. If we are in the midst of making a decision, we do ourselves no favors by rushing to an early spring. We need to nestle in the quiet in-between that separates this time and that time. It is in this space that our hearts nurture and prepare us for doing the right thing, the thing we were born to do, the thing wrapped up in our being as tightly as the DNA that declares one plant a tulip and another a rose. Under a protective blanket of snow, or a deep grey sky, or the fog of indecision, the latent prepares to go forth into the world.
This year's early spring, by virtue of its departure from norm, reminds me of winter's great value: it slows down metabolism and keeps tender buds from rushing to show themselves until the time is right for them to do their best.
Winter is the time of glowing embers deep in back of the fireplace, of ashes that will grow cold. It is the time when we know we must build another fire, until the sun replaces it as the source of warmth and light, and we can move outdoors for seasons of growth and abundance. We must stay in our state of ambiguity until the light shines through and we know what to do next.
We can only move forward in spring if we have spent our winter tending the resources we will need in order to burst forth when the timing is right. The constant center in the middle of change is your heart's desire. And your heart's desire is the becoming part of you.