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I’ve loved winter ever since I was a child. Every creature hunkers down in preparation for the months of cold, and many cultures consider this to be a season of rest, quiet, and stillness before the regeneration of spring. It’s a time of actively waiting in anticipation of the budding of new life.
Since ancient times, people have known that this is the ripest time for spiritual growth and transformation. It’s a time for things seen and unseen to be revealed before spring arrives. I believe we are given this season to detach from the world and seek God, and during this spiritually powerful time, we can participate in some visioning.
We can each take this time and celebrate these long winter months, this quiet season, by living for and by what’s special. Now is the time when we get to draw deep into our spiritual wells and expect beautiful things to be revealed to us so that we may do wonderful things on God’s behalf.
I grew up attending an Episcopal church, and winter always really began for me in late November or early December with Advent. Then there was the excitement of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, followed by Epiphany in January — so many holy celebrations leading up to Lent. Now, as a middle-aged adult and as a Baha’i, I understand why I spent those formative years during Christmas staying up late at night, quietly listening for a sign of Jesus, the angels, and the heavenly concourse? I just knew something was happening. I could feel it.
Even now, I feel the mystery, the mysticism, and the unmistakable magic in the ether. I still revel in spending time sitting at night or during the early morning before the world awakens. I often sit with the candles lit, in prayer and meditation — listening and waiting in breathless anticipation to see with my spiritual eyes what God is doing. As Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith wrote:
O Son Of Love! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory.
Instead of believing our souls are dormant, we can use this time to transform our minds and prepare our hearts to receive God’s blessings and direction. With what God reveals to us, we can reorient or change our course of direction. We can use our newly-acquired spiritual knowledge to best serve our anxiously waiting world. As Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah and his designate successor, so eloquently stated during a talk he gave in Paris in 1911:
The Breath of the Holy Spirit will help you, the Celestial Light of the Kingdom will shine in your hearts, and the blessed angels of God from Heaven will bring you strength and will succour you. Then thank God with all your hearts that you have attained to this supreme benefit. A great part of the world is plunged in sleep, but you have been awakened. Many are blind, but you see!
As a Baha’i, I see that this darkness, turmoil, and pain the world is experiencing is leading to space and a place of unity. The world needs peacemakers and beacons of light — people who can shine with the essence of God’s love as best as we humanly can. We are each called to be the light of the world and to dispel the darkness of this spiritual winter. But we can only do this if we are spiritually fortified. As Abdu’l-Baha explained, we become fortified through the love of God. He wrote:
Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul.
At this extraordinary time, this winter season of active waiting, we have an opportunity to engage in introspection, self-reflection, and profound spiritual growth. And our call to action is clear.
Abdu’l-Baha also wrote that “we must strive with heart and soul in order that this darkness of the contingent world may be dispelled, that the lights of the Kingdom shall shine upon all the horizons, the world of humanity become illumined, the image of God become apparent in human mirrors, the law of God be well established and that all regions of the world shall enjoy peace, comfort and composure beneath the equitable protection of God.”
If we can use these winter months to grow spiritually, we’ll begin to see God’s presence in all people and all things. We’ll understand that we’re here to worship and serve God. And when a divine springtime comes, we’ll be ready.