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Hibernation – Time to Recharge and Prepare

Sometimes nothing seems to be working.  You’re between jobs.  You’re in a relationship desert.  You’re trying to get projects off the ground but nobody’s returning your calls.  You should be training for a marathon, but you’ve turned you ankle.  You’ve reached the stage where you’d just give  up and go with the flow if you could, but there is no flow.

Sometimes life is just like that.  If, when you look clearly at the situation, you seem to be making the right moves and the world isn’t responding it may be time to take the desperation out of your voice and eyes and respond to the deeper rhythm of events.  You may have entered a period of winter.  Winter isn’t terminal, nor is it death.  It’s simply time to hibernate, to turn you energy inward and do your growing underground.

Westernized culture doesn’t support hibernation.  People lead global, 24-hour lives where nothing ever sleeps.  Television, radio, news, transportation, light, heat, and the Internet all keep going and going.  Nothing switches off anymore and life is going at full force or seems to be, so when it goes quiet for us it seems like a violation of the natural order…but it isn’t.

Outside the industrialized, computerized world, whether you go back in time or sideways into different cultures, people understand the slower rhythms of life much better than we do.  “To everything there is a season,” says the Bible.  Gardeners know it.  Fishermen know it.  Sailors, farmers, and nomads know it.  If you look closely at you own life, you can see it, too.  The rhythm changes.  Sometimes things flourish, and events pile up.  Sometimes life feels as though it’s gone into slow motion, or even stopped completely.

I’ve found that the way to survive the little winters of life is to keep working, but reduce your activity and greatly lower your expectations.  At times like these, it’s never beneficial to force anything.  When the sea is rough, mend your sails.  When the ground is frozen, live off your harvest.  When you can’t take the herds into the pasture, give them hay, stay by the fire, and weave your rugs or mend your tents.

Assuming you’re not a fisherman or a nomad there are plenty of things you can do in times of hibernation.  These are times for organizing your possessions, harvesting your resources, evaluating your progress, learning new skills, cultivating friendships, catching up on reading or sleep, caring for your body, going within, and reconnecting with your dreams.  There may be lessons to be learned, and now you have the time to learn them.  Your maps may need to be redrawn, and now you have the time to redraw them, knowing all the while that the season and the energy will shift.

As spring follows winter, times of inactivity are followed by times where your feet don’t touch the ground.  A season in the wilderness, which can happen to the most gifted, famous, and celebrated people, can quickly become a call back to the marketplace.  And when that call comes, you’ll be prepared, because one thing you can do in times of inactivity is to have faith in yourself, your abilities, and your dreams.  You keep preparing, so that when the change comes, as it always does, you’re ready to respond.  And the next time the signs of winter come around, you can recognize and greet them without fear.

Lesley Garner

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