The importance of the winter season used to be lost on me. It wasn’t until my late 30s or early 40s that I began to understand and appreciate this most sacred time of year. As the season begins we are all rushing about with our last minute shopping and social gatherings. We celebrate Christmas and then with excitement ring in a brand new year. But after that, the busyness and mingling quickly die down and we are left with the frosty depths of a very long and somber season. Just as the natural world withdraws into hibernation, we are also asked to still ourselves, embrace the darkness and begin our own inward journey of self examination.
Winter is the time to enter the dark stable of our own soul and have a look around. It’s the time to reflect on our own life; to consider how things are going and what changes might need to be made. It’s the time to give our full attention to life’s great questions.
Listed below are 13 questions – one for each week of the season. You might get yourself a journal and use the questions as writing prompts to reflect on your life over the coming weeks.
The questions are contemplative and not to be hurried through or even answered. This is a time to just live inside the questions and talk to your heart. To create anew you must embrace the darkness just like the seed lying dormant beneath the soil. And remember, no matter how dark, how cold or how empty, savor the journey and know that the light will come.
- Week 1: Sue Monk Kidd has said that the sacred intent of life, of God is to move us continuously toward growth, toward recovering all that is lost and orphaned within us and to restore the divine image imprinted on our soul. What do you believe is God’s sacred intent for your life?
- Week 2: What adjectives would you choose to describe the state of your soul right now? If you had the opportunity to be different, what would you change?
- Week 3: Think back on your life this week and try to identify events or feelings that led you to a new way of thinking or to a new phase in your life. What did you learn?
- Week 4: In what ways do you repeatedly try to sabotage or stop your inner growth? Maybe you use substances, excuses, escape – this week, try to determine your habitual patterns.
- Week 5: Who have the mentors in your life been? Why do you consider them a mentor? What have those relationships offered you?
- Week 6: Who are you? Who do you want to be? What more do you want out of your life?
- Week 7: What do you think the difference is between being alive and truly living?
- Week 8: What do you need to spend more or less time doing, going forward?
- Week 9: Think back on some mistakes you’ve made in the past. What did you learn? Would you have learned the same without making the mistake? Are you afraid to make mistakes?
- Week 10: What gets you excited about life?
- Week 11: What’s holding you back?
- Week 12: What new way of living are you ready to try? What needs to change? Change will be met with resistance. How will you hold fast to your growth despite that resistance?
- Week 13: What have you learned from this inner exploration? What have you lost this season? What have you gained?
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Tammy Batcha is a life-long resident of the Shenandoah Valley. A long-time commuter, she seeks to reconnect to her community. With a background of more than twenty years in publishing, she is founder of The Goodness and Grace Company. A board certified, health and wellness coach, she continues to study integrative nutritional theory while guiding others on a path to wellness.