There is a pregnancy to winter.
Although this season can seem like the end, with its cold and ice and hardness, there is so much life just waiting under the surface. The trees appear dead, but at the tip of each branch – no matter how small – a new leaf or a new blossom is burgeoning. The skin of the branch is swollen, stretched tight over this new growth.
The end is actually the beginning.
Many religions and philosophies speak of ends and beginnings. Some uses terms like death and resurrection, others reincarnation. There are myths around phoenixes which must die to be reborn. One ancient saying expresses ends and beginnings this way: ‘…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’
I’ve experienced many ends and beginnings in my life. Some ends/beginnings have been welcomed – such as moving from being in my parents’ home into a home of my own when I got married, and the change from couple to family with the birth of our first son. Others have been more difficult – like divorce and starting again mid-life.
Sometimes ends assail us unexpectedly – such as the death of a loved one or redundancy from a much-loved and long-held job. When these ends occur, we wonder how our lives will ever be the same again. And the answer is – they won’t.
Life is never the same once an end has occurred.
Just as each year spring growth changes the shape and appearance of a tree, so the new life which we must build after an ending is not quite the same as the one that was before. Even if the end is welcomed, the new life, the new beginning, brings irrevocable change.
This change can be experienced in less physical ways as well. When I have shifted my thinking, changed my outlook or mindset, I have discovered that I’m unable to go back to the former way of looking at life. And I understand that physiological changes occur in the brain during these processes which mean that our brains actually do change when we change our minds!
And these shifts – either physical or in thinking – have taken me places I never expected and opened up possibilities and experiences that I didn’t anticipate.
At times, I’ve been shown aspects of my personality and nature that I was unaware of – which is not always easy or pleasant but is ultimately renewing and developmental. It’s a bit like a door opening into an unused or forgotten room in which I find whole new spaces that I can use.
More than this, I’ve tapped into skills and understandings that, like the pregnant bud on the end of the branch, have always been there but have just been waiting for the right time to burst into life. And the abilities and capacities that I was sure I possessed have surfaced and I’ve been able to accomplish many of the things I had hoped I would be able to.
There is, I have discovered, no end to the beginnings I can step into as long as I am prepared to face the ends.