This past Wednesday, my congregation resumed its weekly dinner and prayer time. The theme during these weeks of ordinary time (leading up to lent) is “practicing winter spirituality”. Every week, one of the participants is asked to share reflections about the theme based on his or her own experience. This past week, I shared some thoughts based on my experiences from Music and Worship Leaders Retreat last year.

However, I was personally challenged by the words that our leader picked for the time of guided prayer and silence:

Let the image of winter’s barren trees come into the eye of your heart. Notice the loveliness of the dark branches and the way they reach out in all directions. Look at their textures and shapes: this is winter’s dance of emptiness, a time of renewal, a dreaming time, a barren time when a different kind of beauty is being revealed.

You, too, can discover beauty in the midst of your barrenness. Imagine that you are standing out there with the lonely trees. You have been stripped of all your bright knowing. You are empty and you are lonely. Do not be afraid of loneliness. In the heart of that loneliness you will discover your great need for God and for others.

from The Circle of Life by J. Rupp and M. Wiederkehr

In particular, I found these thoughts helpful in the light of my recent roller coaster ride at this year’s Music and Worship Leaders Retreat. I like the possibilities and potential hidden within a “dance of emptiness”. I appreciate the hopefulness that comes out of “a dreaming time”.

I also realize that my tendency is to enjoy thinking. The challenge will be to translate these nice thoughts into something that can bear fruit… in the midst of my winter.

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