MId-Winter Landscape of the Soul


Mid-Winter Reflections and
John O’Donohue Wisdom of the Soul

“There is always a winter time when old dies away… Unless you allow yourself to work on that threshold, you remain a guest outside your own life.”
John O’Donohue

This first week of February marks the point of midwinter. This is a going within time for me in preparation for germinating new life.

Even in the luminous sun-scapes of canyon and plateau of the high Arizona desert, temperatures do a fast plummet with the early sunset.  I feel stirring underneath the surface.  Oh, yes, there it is, the voice of my soul putting me on notice to pay attention.

Hopi Indian lands winter landscape. Illustrates this is time of winter ceremonies. In February helper spirits magically sprout seeds in the underground spiritual chambers symbolic of germinating new life even in the midst of winter.

Hopi Indian lands winter landscape. Coming into February during the Bean Dance Ceremony, Hopis magically sprout new life even in the midst of winter.

In my mid-winter reflections, I find solace and inspiration from the wisdom of John O’Donohue.  He is an Irish poet, philosopher, and eloquent spokesman from the ancient Celtic heart. I was astounded to hear of his sudden death in January, 2008.  He was unafraid to be vulnerable and express the deepest longing we all carry. I am moved to tears knowing he is gone from this physical world.

May this mid-winter time bring you a fresh sense of acceptance, in-sight and seeds of new life.

Excerpts from Wisdom From the Celtic World CD by John O’Donohue:

Stars twinkle in a black sky symbolizes Light in the winter darkness and time of reflection.Thresholds of Light and Dark

Within the ancient Celtic ceremonial cycle, the four major seasonal ceremonies were at the thresholds of light and dark…These fecund thresholds brought blessings…They embraced the two sides with energy and celebrated time and the differences.”

As with this cycle of nature, O’Donohue says, “There is always a winter time when old dies away… Unless you allow yourself to work on that threshold, you remain a guest outside your own life.”

“Landscape is the firstborn of Creation…Our bodies are formed of that clay of the earth. And alive in each of is this shared memory we have with earth.  We carry a longing which is not our own.  There is a stillness and a silence within which is a gift of the clay that makes us up.  There is an ancient life in you that is not accessible in the surface of mind.  If we stay trapped in the visible world, we will never inherit our lives.”

When we are struck with suffering, overcome with fears, have a sense of failure and are in a place where no mobility or inspiration seems possible, this is the very time to hold John’s wise words as a beacon:  “Limitation is merely the shore of our new frontier…Our lives are too big for the hardened shell of ego.  Suffering makes an incision on that shell so hidden life can emerge.  You release a new dimension of self, now too bright, too large to live in the old shell.”

Staying present with our self in the place of deepest compassion and the greatest gentleness, rather than seeking distraction, is the key to new life.  “Each of us must come to terms with our essential loneliness.  When we feel most isolated, something is moving, we are returning closer to ourselves.”

Snow on spikes of agave cactus in Sedona winter scene symbolize winter landscape of the soul, time of reflection.

Agave spikes peaking our of snow in Sedona. Photo by Sandra Cosentino

“When we gaze with kindness on the beauty of our inner landscape, we can repair and heal our damaged belonging and come into unity with the divine…It takes a long time to learn one’s own place in our life.  The closer you journey to your own source, the more you come into rhythm and harmony with what is actually there.”

first published Feb. 1, 2008; edited Jan. 14, 2017, Sept. 7, 2019