Winter Retreat for the Soul


Last night I had a dream about a cherry blossom blooming in winter. The pink petals stood out on the otherwise barren street where naked trees waited shivering in the dark. It was a reminder of the promise of spring, of a return to life blooming in full color. It was a message from my soul that rebirth always awaits no matter how dark the days, how long the nights, or how difficult the challenges.


I woke to the sound of my neighbor calling out in the dark before dawn. She is a senior struggling with dementia, and sometimes she finds herself outside my bedroom window unbeknownst to her home-care nurse.


“Hello? I don’t know where I am,” I heard her speak to the naked trees. The nurse appeared in the snow to bring her patient back inside the house. As they returned to their dwelling, I heard the old woman say, “Is there someone I can speak to? I don’t want to be here anymore.” She sounded like a customer requesting the manager of a department store or restaurant, dissatisfied with the service.


Most of us can relate to this woman who has forgotten who she is and why she is here, even though we don’t suffer from dementia. We have all at some point in our lives felt lost, uncertain, alone, and confused. We sometimes question our existence and the point of it all. We too find ourselves asking, “Is there someone I can speak to, preferably at a higher level, who can explain why I’m struggling, or even on this earth?”


We who live in the northern hemisphere are entering a long period of isolation as temperatures drop, and Covid restrictions continue to limit our exposure to familiar and comforting activities. Hibernation has become the norm, along with periods of solitude. Many of us perceive winter as a time of death. But if we shift our perspective and look to nature, we can gain an understanding that this time of year is a necessary retreat.


To be in alignment with nature, one must surrender to the season and learn patience. Each season has its own energy and purpose. Winter is a time to go inward, not just inside a warm cozy house, but also into the inner world of our mind and spirit where we can dream and contemplate and reflect on life and purpose. Human hibernation is profoundly restorative and beneficial for our growth and development. Nature teaches us during winter to rest, restore and repair. Animals who retreat to their inner sanctuaries in caves, trees, or burrows remind us to slow down, sleep, and demand less of ourselves in the material world so we can contemplate the universe.


When we learn to retreat to our inner world in winter, we discover our higher selves. This is that “someone” we’ve been waiting to speak to in the hierarchy of our lives. Rarely do we connect to our souls on a deeper level, because we are often too distracted by all the activities in our daily lives. Spring, summer and fall are full of action that keeps our minds and bodies occupied. But winter is the best season because it is a time to focus on the spirit, which is the most important part of ourselves that we often neglect.


Our spirit is always waiting for us to go inward and seek the wisdom of winter. Listen to your dreams, because they are direct communication from your soul which is your higher self. Your soul will remind you that cherry blossoms will bloom again, but for now, it is time to rest, reflect, and remember who you are.