Our Inward Winters (Parker Palmer)

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Yesterday in parts of North Carolina, the heat index was 107 degrees Fahrenheit! Therefore, it seemed like the perfect time to recall Parker Palmer’s meditation on the season of Winter and its implications for the spiritual life – particularly how it offers us a time to recognize and step into the things we fear. This excerpt is taken from his book Let Your Life Speak, which Leighton has recommended to many over the years.

“In the Upper Midwest, newcomers often receive a classic piece of wintertime advice: ‘The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out in them.’ Here, people spend good money on warm clothing so that they can get outdoors and avoid the ‘cabin fever’ that comes from huddling fearfully by the fire during the hard-frozen months. If you live here long you learn that a daily walk into the winter world will fortify the spirit by taking you boldly to the very heart of the season you fear.

Our inward winters take many forms – failure, betrayal, depression, death. But everyone one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: ‘The winters will drive you crazy until you learn to get out into them’. Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, these fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them – protected from frostbite by the warm garb of friendship of inner discipline or spiritual guidance – we can learn what they have to teach us. Then we discover once again that the cycle of seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all.”

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