I was pleasantly surprised, if not also a bit guilty, when my two day weekend in Madison turned into four. There are some benefits to the midwest in December. Sitting in a beautiful hotel, looking out at what winter had wrought, I found myself overwhelmed. Yes the sun was finally out after days of winter grey but the outdoors were still unfit for human consumption. The ice rink outside my window was deserted. A partially frozen Lake Mendota sent a chill through me. Overhead a small group of birds played in the sky - a kind of game like Follow the Leader. Two rabbits scampered across the snow, chasing each other under golden-lit pine trees. Even in the frozen, silent, darkness, something still moves.
I have a habit every winter. As the days grow shorter, the sky darker and nights colder, my world seems to slow down and my soul yearns for solitude. In these moments I want nothing more than to be curled up on the couch with a book and a cup of tea. I have no desire for companionship, no need for social interaction. My world becomes easily reduced to napping and darkness and solitude. It is my own hibernation of sorts. There was a time when this "season of hibernation" worried me.
'Maybe I'm depressed. Perhaps I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. '
It felt almost as if I was retreating, closing up, defending. It felt like going backward.
But what I have come to understand is that this was not retreat as much as regression. I suppose at first glance that hardly sounds like good news, but this regression is purposeful. It is a regression in service of something bigger, something important. When I paid attention to this movement, to what was really happening instead of what I was afraid might be happening, I began to see it more clearly. This pulling backward was necessary - absolutely necessary - because it gave me energy and commitment for what inevitably comes after. It is like a spiritual slingshot that pulls me backward, sometimes even into old behavior, to conserve my body and soul for the next step in my journey.
I imagine most of us have seasons like this, when we feel like we are moving backwards. Maybe old behavior you thought you had beaten comes back for a time. Or an old way of thinking seeps back into your consciousness. It may feel like you simply do not have the motivation or energy to propel yourself forward. Do not lose heart. Perhaps the Universe holds us in its arms and draws us back to a place that is comfortable and familiar so that we will let go of all the things that really get in our way. And then, when we are truly ready, our Source lets us go, sending us flying beautifully, effortlessly into our becoming.