Finding hope in the winter tree
With the arrival of winter I found myself rather aimless, floating and spinning like a fallen leaf in the current of a slow-moving creek.
2018 was another year of big changes, but unlike years past, finding time to sprinkle words on pages was more of a struggle. I tried and tried, but it was no matter: I was empty.
It’s the deep fear of a young creative of any kind, maybe—that fear that the muse will abandon, that ideas will dry up like crops planted in dust. On more than one occasion the question popped into my mind: Is this it? Am I done?
Hiking in freezing weather brought strange comfort.
For a reason I couldn’t explain, I felt pulled to the forest every chance I got. Sometimes my gait was slow, plodding, searching. Other times I ran up the steep hills and around the edges that dropped off by the river, charging ahead toward a destination I couldn’t discern—or maybe no destination at all. Could the sheer determination of my gait spark a destination into existence? Every footfall pounded out a pleading rhythm:
Tell me where to go, tell me where to go!
Finally, I stopped at the edge of a drop, high above the paved walking trails for those motivated by exercise and not by an aimless search for an elusive muse. The air hung wet. Fog hovered over the wide river far, far below. From my place high above, I made contact with a large bare tree.
(Or perhaps it made contact with me.)
Where did that thought—that knowing—come from?
Close on its heels came a flood of messages, as though some part of myself that was not my present-tense self was delivering urgent wisdom.
I am the winter tree.
There, in the bone-cold air… warmth. With me on a wooded, steep hillside and those reaching, empty branches far away on the other side of the creek, I felt warmth. Kinship. Hope, given to me by none other than that tired, spent, bare-naked winter tree.
In my leather triskele journal, I wrote:
In the symbol and story of the winter tree, I see and understand myself.
Shedding, quieting, pulling inward, but deep down, soaking up. Pulling in nutrients. Readying again for inevitable spring. I write and embrace and make peace; I find beauty and healing in myself in this place. The Winter Tree.
Now here I am, months later, and I can feel the little buds of springtime. That magical creative confluence visited me again and I’m delighted by direction and energized by inspiration. In winter I found my rest, my healing, my quiet place that saved and restored me, preparing me.
Because as we all know (and in knowing, take hope)… spring always returns.