Discerning the Winter Blues


Greenlake in winter

Greenlake in winter

Yesterday we held another of our Mustard Seed team discernment sessions.  Last week we got rather bogged down as we tried to define more clearly what we wanted to accomplish this next year so I was not really looking forward to this session.  Just to jog your memory we have been using the Quaker group discernment process which begins with a time of silence and centering and then a time of personal sharing about what we are looking forward to in the week ahead and what we are not looking forward to.  Then we look back and share the high and low points of our previous week,  That is followed by another time of silence to discern what God is saying.

seattle-skyline-3

Seattle skyine in winter

As we reflected on what each person had shared we realized that last week the grey skies of Seattle were getting to all of us.  To some extent all of us were struggling with the winter blues and it had obviously effected dramatically the way we interacted last week – I am not going to call this Seasonal Affective Disorder because I do think that to a certain extent what we were all struggling with is the natural rhythm of our bodies telling us that it is time to slow down and take a rest.  We live in a world in which we no longer take notice of the shortening days except to complain about our growing electric bills.  We simply turn on the lights and stay up as late as we do in the summer.

As we talked we realized that maybe God was saying something to us here – not just as individuals but as an organization.  Maybe, we reflected, we need to take notice of our bodies and build a slow down time into our winter schedules.  In nature the winter is a time when on the surface there seems to be no activity, but beneath the ground roots are growing deep and strong.  In fact shrubs planted in the Fall send down deeper roots than those planted in the spring and so are more resistant to drought.  Maybe we too are more resistant to spiritual droughts if we take time to slow down and reflect over the winter, allowing our roots to go down deep.  One thing we talked about was planning a team retreat during this season so that we can reflect in a more relaxed atmosphere on what God is saying to us.

I was reminded that I once read that the tradition of Advent wreaths actually began because farmers took the wheels of their wagons during the wet winter months and this became the framework for the Advent wreath.  Now I am not sure that any of us would consider taking the wheels off our cars over the winter but I do think that we need to build times of rest, reflection and renewal into our schedules.  Maybe we should stop driving our cars at least for a few days so that we can relax and refresh.  We are not meant to continually live in harvest season.  We are not meant to be continually producing fruit or even be continually blossoming.  In fact plants that are forced into bloom at the wrong season by florists never recover their natural rhythm.  Most of them will never blossom again.

What do you think.  Are there ways in which we need to take more notice of our bodies?  Are there ways that we should be more in synch with God’s natural rhythms not jsut in our personal lives but in our work lives as well?

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11 Responses

  1. Christine, I so agree with this posting.

    When I get clients who are starting to burn out, I tell them, ‘ ‘this is your body and your brain saying, ‘I’ve had enough.Keep it up and I’ll shut you down.’ Then I encourage them, ‘Look at animals. When a cat or dog become stressed, they crawl under the house and sleep.When they’re restored they come out and eat. As humans we ignore what is basic knowledge to a creature who is supposed to be ‘dumber’ than we are.’

    I often send my male clients off to go fishing, and my female clients to the nail or facial salon, depending on their finances, or I’ll send the off to the park to sit and look at the foliage. If the women can’t do it, I suggest they lock themselves in the bathroom with a bottle of nail polish and ignore the beating on the door.

    I do believe we’ve lost our rhythms through work, striving, and continual movement, along with the loss of extended family or community.

    I’d love to see a report of adrenal glands from 100 years ago compared to the adrenal glands of people living today.

    Thanks for this posting. It’s a breath of fresh air.

  2. Hi Sheila, love your suggestions though the nail polish would not exactly be up my alley. I would be more likely to hide away with a good book or go out for a long walk in the rain. I think that all of us need to know what helps destress us and make sure that we make time for those things.

  3. Christine,
    I have also felt that there were rhythms to our lives — daily, weekly, and so on — and that to listen to those rhythms and act, or not act, accordingly keeps our lives in balance. Of course, the ancient monks had the rhythm of work and prayer, or rather, prayer and work — orare et laborare. We could learn something from their lives of physical labor, and spiritual devotion.
    -Chuck

  4. How true. In my book Godspace I talk about the rhythms that Jesus modelled – I think that the monks probably picked their rhythms up from the early disciples who I believe learned from Jesus – a rhythm of spirituality that infused everything and around that a rhythm between work and rest, and community and solitude. Wish we could talk more about this.

  5. Christine, hopefully we can continue this conversation at Fuller in March. I’m enrolled in yours and Tom’s seminar. Look forward to meeting you both in person. -Chuck

  6. Look forward to meeting you and to continuing the conversation

  7. One of the things I’ve begun to realize through making an effort to eat local produce is that we may not need every possible nutrient every day. Despite what the nutrition charts tell us, we might actually survive well on greens in the spring, root veggies in the winter, etc., even though we’ve come to expect tomatoes and zucchini all year round. Our bodies need to observe those kinds of rhythms in lots of areas… including rest/activity.

  8. […] I was trying to catch up on blogs that I’d gotten behind on and I came across this post, by Christine Sine at Godspace. She […]

  9. […] Christine Sine – Godspace – “Discerning The Winter Blues” […]

  10. […] Christine Sine – Godspace – “Discerning The Winter Blues” […]

  11. Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is more than I expected when I stumpled upon a link on Delicious telling that the info is awesome. Thanks.

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