Living Arts Weekly: An Invitation to Slow Down

December 19, 2021

Waiting is often not easy for us. We want to be finished quickly, and see a result immediately. Waiting teaches us to deal with time. Wishes and fantasies hurry ahead into the future. To fulfill them we need time, and we must wait and overcome impatience.

-Freya Jaffke, from Advent: Preparation for the Adult in the Gateway Series, Seasonal Festivals in Early Childhood

Here we are at the brink of the Winter season. The external rush of vibrancy and life has long folded into itself. As the Earth welcomes nature into its warm respite, it embraces us, too. It offers us the opportunity to slow down and rest. It invites us to sit longer, to sleep longer, to let go of obligations and reflect. What do you do?

Perhaps you don’t hear its call, or perhaps you ignore it. You might rush through December with the whirl of holiday activity. Maybe you stubbornly refuse for the cold to slow your pace, and fill your days so that you don’t have to think about the bleakness of the season. Or, maybe, you take up Winter’s offer.

After clearing the evening of commitments, you nestle down with some tea and a book but drift off into thought. Or maybe that book is a journal and you reflect on what the past year has brought you, which naturally moves into considering the year ahead and the coming Spring. Suddenly, you realize you are softly glowing with anticipation. You discover that by actually settling into waiting, you have been given a gift. Or rather, you feel that a gift is coming.

That’s what anticipation is like, afterall. It’s an edge-of-your-seat, holding-your-breath moment of hope that permeates and glows. What will life bring me this year, you wonder. And, when exactly will I step outside and feel in my breath and on my skin the shift in temperature that harkens the waking of the Earth?

We all know it’s coming, and it’s easy to take it for granted. But if we intentionally live in that waiting, allowing ourselves to slow down in the collective hush of the season, we also invite blissfully gratifying moments like the day we do step out to smell Spring in the breeze. Our Winter nights spent resting and dreaming feel well worth it as we realize our exuberance- full of plans and hopes for the coming year- match that of the energized Earth. And, as the year unfolds and we look back towards those Winter dreams, we discover that our anticipation did not only belong to the coming light of Spring. Our anticipation was actually sourced from deep below, where there existed the potentized, microcosmic beginning of something new in us, too.