Finding the will or way to practice our spirituality in the winter months can be a challenge, especially without sunshine, and the inclination to stay under the warm covers. Maybe boredom and probably laziness can cause us to abandon the very practices that connect us to the God we love. Try creating and finding quiet, inspiring, ordinary space that can become sacred with your consistency and intentionality.
INDOOR SACRED SPACE. A simple practice is creating a place in your home to spend time in contemplative prayer and meditation. This idea is physical and hands on, like opening the door to a beautiful, comfortable room with warmth and joy as you sit down with a beloved friend.
My sacred space practice has meant creating a meditation corner in my office, separate from my work desk, with a cozy recliner looking out the window. I enter the space early in the dark winter mornings, light candles and sit in solitude and centering prayer. Having this prepared space makes daily consistency possible. Lighting the candles shows my intention to be present and sets boundaries around the time.
Use your creative imagination making a space that invites you to connection. It can be simple without anything but your presence or you can add objects such as candles and crosses. Try string lights, aromatics, and plants to awaken your senses and personal objects that give you energy for your meditation. It can be a small part of any room, a pillow in your walk-in closet, on your covered porch, or a bench in your garden. Whatever you come up with, make this sacred space a non-negotiable for your soul care.
OUTDOOR LABYRINTH. Even in winter cold, a daily walk or bike ride invigorates my prayer life. The paths ahead and encounters with nature or people heighten all my senses to God as Creator. On these walks, I’ve discovered three labyrinths close to my home and have found them both challenging and rewarding prayer practices.
A labyrinth is a circular maze with meandering spiral paths inward to a center and back out. A labyrinth is also a practice of discipline, because it forces one to slow down and continue on the physical path for inner prayer and connection. There are many resources for walking a labyrinth, but very simply, I follow these three phases of meditation for the labyrinth:
- Letting go. While walking in toward the center, pray through the anxiety or pressing needs of your day, allowing them to fall out of your heart and mind, step by step.
- Centering yourself in Christ. Allow God to lovingly pull you into the center space. Reaching the center of the labyrinth, embrace Christ in you, and rest in hope, peace, forgiveness.
- Going Out in Love. As you walk out, allow God to push you out of yourself with peace or a purpose.
You can search for a labyrinth near you on the world-wide labyrinth locator
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. This is an amazing resource for all practices, including a guide for Labyrinth Prayer.
REFLECT. What have you noticed about yourself in the solitude of winter? What goodness of God have you experienced in the cold days?
How exactly good it is
to know myself
in the solitude of winter,
my body containing its own
warmth, divided from all
by the cold; and to go
separate and sure
among the trees cleanly
divided, thinking of you
perfect too in your solitude,
your life withdrawn into
your own keeping
-to be clear, poised
in perfect self-suspension
toward you, as though frozen.
And having known fully the
goodness of that, it will be
good also to melt.Wendell Berry
BREATH PRAYER. O Lord I am satisfied with your goodness. Inhale: O Lord I am satisfied. Exhale: With your goodness. Substitute goodness with love, grace, peace, or faithfulness.