I must be honest. January and February are not my favorite months. The lesson of acceptance is always with me and I’ve yet to learn how to embrace the bleak landscape, the barren, bony tree branches, the biting winds and cold of this time of year.
So let me tell you about a cornfield. Yes, a cornfield.
I have loved cornfields since childhood, when I used to run barefoot through the one on my grandfather’s land, the one he plowed in the hollers of Tennessee. The smell of the rich earth filled my nose as I wove my way through the towering stalks, lost in a rustling maze of wonder.
This particular cornfield near me — one that developers have not swallowed up yet to McMansions — is one I drive past at least once a day. The land is vast and spreads to the horizon. This cornfield has become a prayer for me, a mentor and teacher.
Right now, the ground is furrowed and stripped, with broken bits of stalks poking up through the hard, cold earth. The land has yielded its corn and now it is resting. Waiting.
I tell myself I must do this, too. I have worked long and hard this past year, on many fronts, and sometimes I don’t realize, like many of us, how tired I am until I stop and rest. A physical and spiritual fatigue has been asking to be heard. And although I may not like the stillness of “not doing” — I must allow myself to simply “be” in the winter of life.
Indeed, given my age, I am in the winter of my life. The cornfield teaches me to burrow deep into the soil of my soul. There — if I am silent and listen — I may discover what wants to be born within me. Nothing can be rushed during this time.
And so, this period of uncertainty sets me on edge. Because truthfully, I don’t know what will be born. I am in a period — yet again — of waiting.
Sadly, we have become a people who have forgotten how to do this — to wait in the “not knowing.” We rush. And we have somehow lost our rhythm and no longer move with the grace of nature and the seasons.
This past Christmas showed that to me all too clearly. I was aware of the high-pitched frenetic pace around me. Everyone seemed to be pushing to get everything done and ready, without time for breath or spiritual preparation.
Now, with the holidays behind us, what next?
The day after Christmas, I went into the local corner market and one of the staff was dismantling the Christmas tree.
“Already?” I asked her, as I stepped inside.
She gave me a look. “Why not? Christmas is over.”
But aren’t there Twelve Days of Christmas I asked myself, heading to the parking lot? Shouldn’t we allow time to savor the joy of this season? Isn’t this time of celebration the fruit of patient waiting when we were swallowed up by the winters of life and the cold earth?
The good news in that when we learn to wait and be in the present, to allow life its own pace — we are re-born and find ourselves anew. Waiting becomes golden and awe plants itself deeply in the soul.
In her book When the Heart Waits author Sue Monk Kidd writes these beautiful words in a letter to the Divine, and it is much the way I feel about this cornfield:
“Here, surrounded and permeated by your creation, I feel YOU. I feel life. I know myself connected … when I think of the simplicity and extravagance of creation, I want to bend down and write the word YES across the earth so that you can see it.”
So, this year I am writing “YES” across my soul and heart. Yes to January and February. Yes to waiting and new life. Yes to this cornfield. Yes. Yes.