The Crisp Clarity of Cold Mornings

It’s December 17th, just four days until the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Yesterday I wrote a small poem — Note to Self in Winter — a reminder to stop fighting what I’m feeling in my bones. This morning I woke with the first words of Le Cri de Merlin in my mind. I share both poems here today in celebration of taking time for yourself during these winter holidays when things can so easily turn chaotic, topsy-turvy, and oh-so-not-merry.

Remember kindness and gratitude. Remember to smile at strangers and those closest to you. Remember generosity and civility in crowded stores and blizzards. Remember hot chicken soup, tea with lemon and honey, and steamy baths if you’ve got that bad cold. Remember laughter. Remember to breathe deeply in the face of miracles all around us. Remember simplicity.

Note to Self in Winter

To become bear-like / in these winter months / to slow down to a soft snore / to lumber willingly / into my cave / to embrace rest and darkness / so I may rejuvenate and emerge / in spring / ravenous / to begin again. -ngs

Le Cri de Merlin

It is winter, and you have come / alone to a clearing in the wood. / Close your eyes and imagine you are / Merlin, shape-changer and androgyny, / come to the forest Brocéliande. / So transformed in your inward being, / slowly open your eyes and look at / the clearing, circle of trees, / snow and shadows, and then / let all dissolve into turbulence / of color and form, intense / longing, and owl’s cry.

If you follow these instructions, / and if your heart is pure, / you will experience three revelations. / First is the knowledge / that it has taken a lifetime / to arrive at this place; / second is the conviction / that you are most alive / in the act of discovery; / and third is the fact / that observation changes / the thing observed.

Look! It is winter, and you have come / alone to this clearing in the wood, / a familiar place you have never / seen before. Do not hurry to leave, / but when at last you turn away, / remember this, if you remember nothing else: / You are no longer who you were. - Robert Collen in Burning World, 1997

NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE