The Way It Is in the Winter of the Soul —

Almost February, the nadir of the year (according to me). Even though the light has begun returning, it is still a dark time, cold, snowy, gray when it isn’t black.

My head tells me that, underneath the snowy blanket outside, bulbs are stirring, putting forth shoots, just as within the bare forlorn looking trees the sap is also stirring, and before too long the first little bumps will be pushing forth. But that’s not what my heart says. My heart loses heart, you might say. It looks like a time of death, and it feels that way. Our little community is suffering loss after loss, from death, from illness, from departures. We rebound, but it saps a little energy each time. So where do we look for hope? Here, perhaps, in this poem by William Stafford:

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among

things that change. But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die; and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Yarn skeins

Such a homely thing, a ball of yarn, a piece of thread —

But it led the ancient Greek hero Theseus safely out of the labyrinth of the monster Minotaur, and saved his life. And it can lead us safely out of the labyrinth of our winter lives as well.

This entry was posted in Challenge, Etcetera, Life and Death, winter, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to The Way It Is in the Winter of the Soul —

  1. grand-player says:

    Sunshine is coming


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Testimony to things unseen?
      I think in South Africa right now you must be flooded with sunshine!
      I will share some in spirit.


      • grand-player says:

        Oh I just visited South Africa. I live in Atlanta Georgia. Yesterday, I took a picture of blooming daffodils. Too soon for them – we will probably get a few freezes in Feb. Hope our spring isn’t ruined. Sending “rays of hope” your way


        • Touch2Touch says:

          The sunshine of South Africa blinded me! I’ve never been there, OR in Atlanta.
          One year, though, we spent March in Savannah, and by the time the month was up, all kinds of wonderful flowers were in bloom, including glorious azaleas. Georgia knows how to have spring! (You know, here in New England, we pronounce that Mud Season!)
          Thanks for the “rays of hope.”


  2. Winter has certainly his own ‘melancholy’ I would say…..even when we’re very young. Getting elderly it can have a feel of death on top of it, I agree. Our ‘bones’, the mind, motivation to carry on, the moral – everything seems to go down or away…. and we can become somewhat blind, blind not to be able to see the “sunny” sides of winter. Sunny in the sense of a peaceful time, a bit sleepy to be ready for all activities arriving in spring. Like the nature which needs a rest from flowering and growing and goes to sleep during winter, protecting new life under the snow blanket.
    Let’s try to keep the ‘threads’ in our hands and minds – the next spring will come for sure!!!
    Best wishes, dear Judith, for “surviving” the last few dark winter weeks, I’ll try to do my Best!
    Thinking of you,

    P.S. Sorry about my English 😦


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Karin, your English is just FINE.
      You offer beautiful images here, especially of the “sunny” sides of winter. Your comment makes the thread stronger to hold on to than it was before. Thank you so much!


  3. pauline says:

    Just make sure your thread is bright red or zingy orange or brilliant yellow – it will cheer you up while you’re following it. Sometimes life feels like hanging on, sometimes like letting go, sometimes like plodding through, but you may as well enjoy the bits you can. It’s like smiling even when you don’t feel like it – the smile always wins.


  4. This is really beautifully expressed. Thank you for a wonderful post!


  5. Yes, that ball of yarn, by itself is homely, as you say. But consider what it becomes when it is woven together with joy and memory, love and friendship!


  6. Patti Kuche says:

    Right at this moment I am listening to the wonderful Bob Marley singing that everything is going to be alright. No woman, no cry . . . .

    You have a very generous heart!


  7. Martin says:

    For me this time of year brings mixed blessings with its dark days. It is a time when I have to crank up the ISO of the camera to allow for fast shutter speeds, increasing the sensor noise. But the evenings provide illuminations on every street and falling rain or snow bring further opportunities for shots that are a little different. And, in the gloom, bright colors really seem to sing 🙂

    Don’t worry Judith, spring is indeed just around the corner and before we know it we’ll be photographing the wheat waving in the breeze at the end of summer 🙂


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Whoosh! I’ll settle for the spring violets popping out their little shining faces, my dear!
      What I can test out is if, in the gloom, the bright colors start to sing —
      But I’ll have to start tomorrow; today was a day of unparalleled fog, so dense and dark that we’ve renamed it MURK!
      Thanks so much for your words and good cheer from across the pond.


  8. rebekah says:

    Funny, while I was reading your post, I was thinking «wonder what colour her thread is?!» …then I read Pauline’s comment 🙂
    I’m sorry you feel this way about Winter. Well … tonight, I don’t feel all that good about it myself, as we have pouring rain and terrible gusts of southerly winds. It’s warm and muggy. I like pure, fluffy snow with perhaps ten degrees below freezing …then I’ll do like the other commenter — just crank up the ISO. On the other hand, I suffer during Summer so I just want to put a pillow in front of my face and scream into it.

    I loved the poem. It’s difficult to try and explain about the thread.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      I thought the poem was amazing. I first “found” it on another blogger’s blog, and she emailed me the whole poem about a year ago, and I saved it ever since, not knowing when I’d want/need it, but knowing that such a time would surely come.
      Summer mostly doesn’t bother me (A/C does work wonders). May and June are possibly my favorite months, that’s when we have tender green leaves around here. Everybody loves Autumn, don’t they?
      But in winter I would take my cue from the bears, and hibernate if I could!
      (Do you know what color your thread is?)


  9. Gemma says:

    Winter. Humbug!
    I don’t like the cold, dreary days. I’m looking forward to sunny and warm. Maybe 78 degrees. 🙂


  10. Madhu says:

    Wishing you warm sunshine to chase those blues away 🙂 Hold on tight!


  11. As I read this exquisite poem the sun is shining, but icy winds from the Great Lakes are whipping through the community — at once a suggestion of spring and winter slap.


  12. Winter is such a tough time. At least I find it so. So much greyness and everything looks drab except for a fresh snowfall. The cold, the wind, the ice, the lack of daylight and sunshine, all weigh heavy on me. As I read this, I thought that the thread for me, is golden, and is the thread that holds me to the web of life, to the web of friends, those I know, and those I know and have never met, like you. And on winter days, when I just want to crawl under the blankets and stay there till warmth and sunshine return, I’m going to remember that golden thread. I’m sending you a poem, that I read perhaps 40 years ago. It resonated with me then and has, ever since, about the hope that we need in winter and during the winter times of our life. I do not know the author although I have looked and looked.

    Bring me a rose in the winter time
    when a rose is hard to find.
    Bring me a rose int he winter time,
    I’ve got roses on my mind.
    For a rose is sweet most anytime
    and yet
    Bring me a rose in the wintertime
    It’s so easy to forget!


  13. Sending you sunshine and hugs from my sunny part of the world. Hang in there! The flowers and spring colors are coming soon! 🙂


  14. xties says:

    Greetings from Wellington, New Zealand. We’re in the height of our lovely temperate summer: 25˚C forecast (77˚F). The words of William Stafford, coupled with your apt image, have clearly drawn warm responses from your readers … to which please permit me to add my warm regards.


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Warmth in any and every form gratefully received!
      Yours is my ideal of summer weather. I will be happy visualizing you strolling, photographing buildings and gardens and whatever takes your fancy in Wellington.
      It seems like whenever I see a gorgeous landscape in a movie, New Zealand will appear in the credits —


  15. Kevyn says:

    What a treat to share in this, Judith. Thank you. It is still astonishing to me how moved I/we are by the weather. This sensitivity connects us back to our ancient forbears, and reminds us that whatever our learning or insights, we are creatures indeed..Come, Sun, come Warmth!


  16. Hi Touch,

    After my long absence, I’ve been considering a return to the Blogosphere. I thought to start first as a reader (baby steps) so of course I sought you out. How amazing that I should read this on Groundhog Day. The local groundhog, Staten Island Chuck, did not see his shadow. The New York City forecast is for an early spring. Unfortunately, the forecast for the human spirit is much more difficult to discern and the process is not nearly as kitsch as those surrounding Groundhog Day.

    I’m wishing you a springtime spirit.

    Thank you for this post.

    Tree (Adrienne)


    • Touch2Touch says:

      Tree, I am so happy to see your name(s) appear on a comment!
      I keep your RSS feed faithfully open, and check regularly to see if you’re back in the Blogosphere.
      Know that you have been missed, and will receive as warm a welcome as winter sufferers are capable of, whenever you feel you’re ready to return.
      Springtime is a hope, and a promise. I wish you a springtime spirit in return, and springtime solace.
      Touch (Judith)


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