It is winter now. The air is crisp and clean and the trees are now bare and stark. The sky is growing darker, so dark we cannot see very far even though it is very early. Max and I took the trash out tonight and he said, “Mama…stay with me. I don’t know where I am going”. I held his hand as he dragged the recycling out to the curb and then made his way back to the house.
In that one sentence I think Max captured for me the essence of winter. I have not been able to let it go all night.
I don’t know where I am going.
Winter calls us to stay. Stay inside. Stay warm. Stay with our quietest thoughts. Stay with our fears. Stay with our dreams. Stay with ourselves.
And winter calls us to stay with the uncomfortable, scary place of not knowing. With the leaves all gone, with the tree roots hidden, we have to go on blind faith that the tree is alive and that in the spring it will be green again. But truth is, until that tree buds, we never really know if it made it through the cold. Will we make it to the spring? Will we survive this cold snap?
In winters past, I ran from all this unknowing in my life. I sought answers to my questions about what would happen next. When I couldn’t find them, I made them up–dreamed up how it would all be and convinced myself that I knew. But now, after this last year, after this last month, all that I know is that I really don’t know. And that after all that running, I was tired. No wonder winter always makes me so sleepy.
But this winter, I am going to try something different–just for fun. I am practicing not knowing, or rather, I am practicing being comfortable with not knowing. For I never really knew…I just always convinced myself I did. And I am wondering what might happen if I let go of all that convincing.
Where there are facts to be found, like “Where did I put the peanut butter?” I will welcome them. But on the big questions, the what will happen next…the what is around the next corner…the how could this possibly turn out…I am challenging myself, breath by breath,to let go of wanting to know. I am taking a solemn vow to be OK with surprises. Because they are coming anyway.
I am going to practice being still. And instead of chattering away with questions, I am going to listen. Maybe something will happen. Maybe not. The finding out could be the best part.
Stay with me. I don’t know where I am going.