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Wintering: an invitation to retreat

I’m joining today with the Five Minute Friday community of writers who write for 5 minutes about a one-word prompt.

It’s gotten considerably colder these past few days here in Indiana, and the once vibrant, fall leaves are slowly starting to fade. The trees are looking a bit bare and lonely, but they’re just doing what trees do this time of year: retreating and resting. 

As the days grow shorter, and the nights grow darker, it’s the season of winter that invites us to retreat.

There’s a certain craving to hide away and rest that comes with the bitter cold and sheets of snow. Just as the trees retreat inward after a long year of growing and producing, we, too, are allowed to lay down all that the year has brought us and simply rest. 

Author, Katherine May, in her book Wintering, reiterates the necessity of accepting winter’s invitation to retreat, “Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing out of sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.” 

She says later on in her book that, “Winter is a season that invites me to rest well and feel restored, when I am allowed to retreat and be quietly separate.” 

What if, instead of longing for the warmth and long days of summer, we accepted winter’s invitation to hide away and rest? What if God purposed winter as a season of retreat? A time of stretching our limbs and breathing deeply as we contemplate and behold all the ways in which His faithful, unfailing love has touched our lives this year. 

This winter season, I’m choosing to hide as the Psalmist’s words in Psalm 91:1-2 beckon me to do, 

“When you abide under the shadow of Shaddai,
    you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.
He’s the hope that holds me and the stronghold to shelter me,
    the only God for me, and my great confidence.”

May we all remember to be hidden in the strength of God Most High this winter season as we retreat with the purpose of emerging looking more like Him. 

A Prayer of Retreat

Shaddai, I pray that winter would be a time of purposeful rest as I hide myself in You. Give me eyes to behold and contemplate all the ways in which your goodness and love have touched my life this year. I ask that as winter approaches, you would teach me how to retreat further into You. And as the days grow shorter, and the nights grow longer, may the darkness descend like a comforting friend, shielding and sheltering. At winter’s end, may I emerge from the shadow of your wings with a heart that looks more like Yours. 

In Jesus’ Name, amen.