I am back from National Health Federation travels, my other work as Executive Director, from much warmer Southern California on health-freedom business. Back to Adytum Sanctuary, my favorite place on Earth…. even more than my beloved Mt. Rainier. I woke to images of beauty here that touch my Spirit softly with their “Welcome Home!” As cold as it is, it is so good to be here again inside the enchantment and loveliness.
This late February day dawned beautifully, near-cloudless blue sky, and with startling clarity, the Lake Mayfield deep, brilliant blue. The quality of light on the Lake so intense I wish I were a painter. No “breath of the Dragon” mists rising off its depths this fine morning. Rising Sun made its way across Adytum’s tree plantation and lapped around the edges of cottages across the Lake, bringing life and a welcome from the recent intense snow that blanketed the hills and valley below.
Winter is such a gift to us. It is a time to pull in, to feed the interior for the time of great growth and outward work again. If we allow ourselves to be more languid, we will naturally follow the cycles of nature and respect that there is a time for everything under the Sun. And this season is for rest and the resultant rejuvenation.
Winter invites creativity and relieves of the endless list of outside chores, gardening, bringing in harvests. It summons rest and contemplation, hours to sit and think by the window or the fire. Time to read and contemplate the thoughts of others, finding the mirror of our own soul in their words. Time to hear our own voice again….
The Dragon and gargoyles of Adytum sleep on, dreaming of Spring that is even now, after a hard Winter, revealing herself in the promise in the buds. The tulips I planted in memory of my Mother’s passing in September of 2018 thrust through still half-frozen soil, a reminder of our great will and purpose. What began as a blade of green will soon nod their heads in unison, full of life and color, around Easter time. So much beauty from so little…. a hard, bare lump of bulb.
Grapes in the vineyard and the hope of wine rest this new year, asleep yet in what, for all intents and purposes, appears to be utterly dead wood. But the harvest will assuredly come this September. Hundreds of pounds of organic grapes from what seems lifeless and still now.
What greatness will emerge from us at the end of this time of restoration? The New Year is still young. “Everything is gestation, then birthing,” Rainier Maria Rilke wrote in Letters to a Young Poet. Winter is the essence of the gestation that can lead to the birth of greatness if it is managed with focus and intention.
Back in the 1600s, Queen Christina of Sweden noted that “it is necessary to try to surpass oneself always; this occupation ought to last as long as life. …” One of the best ways to achieve exponential growth is through deep rest, relaxation, meditation, and the planning that emerges will be focused and intentional indeed.
When the cold of Winter strikes, many not only dream of heading to the Sun but join the thousands at the airports around the World, heading off on vacation. I’m reading a book, one of many, called How to be a Better Tourist by Johan Idema who notes that the tsunami of tourists has descended on villages, holy sites, and destinations so greatly as to crush the inhabitants that live there, to do them harm. At the end of these “vacations” it is said, we need one to recover. This kind of experience isn’t good for anyone.
The solution is a “staycation” or something quite close. Over my eight years of inn-keeping at Adytum Sanctuary in the exquisite Pacific Northwest, I have observed and heard from hundreds of guests, “We had planned to go to Mt. Rainier today, St. Helens tomorrow, and then continue on to Portland the next day. But we are just going to stay here. We’re exhausted!” This is as close to a “staycation” as you can get, here at the Sanctuary.
People often ask if Adytum Sanctuary is seasonal, if we close in the Winter. Of course not! Life goes on, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations…. People “meeting in the middle” which is what Adytum is: halfway between Portland and Seattle. Mothers come to have a break from mothering, sisters come to reconnect, wedding guests and family reunion guests come to create some silence and distance, in a happy way, between being with family or friends too many hours on end.
They come and find a vortex here at Adytum where, once entered, it is very hard to extricate oneself. And that is the entrance to rejuvenation, to reconnecting with all that really matters in life, in the beauty and peace that is Adytum Sanctuary.
And out of this great peace and serenity, greatness will come. We have added value to ourselves, to our relationships, and emerge stronger, more capable and surer, more relaxed and confident than when Winter began. More focused on our mission, our destiny, and determined to use our time wisely. Winter can do all this and more.
Copyright 2019 by Katherine A. Carroll