We all feel it—a lack of motivation, a malaise by 4pm—the dog days of winter are here. It’s easy for me to complain about the fact that there isn’t any daylight to kick the kids outside after school so I can get a bit more done (not to mention the amount of work to get the kids bundled to go outside in the first place). But this year, I am embracing the early coming of night each day. Some may call this change in attitude maturity or wisdom, but I call it a necessity.
I have an inability to sit still. Not in the same sense of my fidgety 8-year-old that can’t sit still through Mass, but I have long suffered from an inability to be unproductive. If I am not cleaning, teaching my kids, working, writing, doing yard work or grocery shopping, I feel the need to start any—and all—of these tasks. The outcome of this mindset isn’t ideal. I have been inching myself closer to burnout everyday and finding myself with a shorter temper than I’d like. While my nature is to be productive in a very material, physical way, lately my heart has been conflicted, yearning for peace and tranquility—yearning for the opportunity to turn it all down.
The other day, as I climbed into the car for my usual Saturday grocery run at 3pm and noticed the coming dark, I thought to myself “man, I’m not going to want to do anything when I get home.” And there it was. My opportunity to slow down. My opportunity to “give myself permission” to sit and be still.
God, in His infinite wisdom, has blessed us with the seasons. “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3). And with this new season, it is the fitting time to simply sit still. Again, in His infinite wisdom, it makes sense—the fields are empty and quiet, the harvest is done, some animals are hibernating—why not do so as well? Why not take the opportunity to set things aside and sit in silence, pondering the coming season and the coming of the Lord in the manger and in our hearts.
Now as we inch further into winter’s early evenings, I’m actively making an effort to sit in silence and focus on doing nothing in these early, dark evenings of winter. This may look like a chance to read a book for fun, or sit in prayer or attend adoration. Or it may look like sitting on the couch watching a movie with kids snuggled on either side. There is no right way to do it, just a conscious effort to slow down.
God has blessed us with these early evenings of winter. There is no rushing the kids to baseball practice when snow covers the ground. I’m less inclined to run out shopping for something we may want but not need if I need to shove on my boots and slog through the slush. It is here in the dark quiet evenings of winter that I will meet the Prince of Peace.