Here more ways to practice your spirituality in winter.

ice covered branches

8. Don't Mess With the Cold

In More Matter: Essays and Criticism, John Updike shares an essay titled "The Cold."

"Cold is an absence, an absence of heat, and yet it feels like a presence — a vigorous, hostilely active presence in the air that presses upon your naked face and that makes your fingers and toes ache within their mittens and boots. Cold is always working, it seems — busy freezing water in the ponds and rivers, knitting intricate six-sided snowflakes by the billions, finding cracks around the walls and windows of your house, forcing furnaces in the cellar to roar away. Cold fights you — it doesn't want your automobile engine to ignite in the morning, and once your car is on the highway it clogs its path with snow and slush. A whole secondary world of dirt, of sand and salt, is called into being by the cold, and an expansive and troublesome array of wearing apparel — mufflers, earmuffs, wool-lined boots and gloves, parkas, leggings, long underwear, and knitted face-masks."
— from Winter

Don't fight with the cold and allow it to deplete all of your energies. It is very easy to make winter into a terrorist out to bring us harm. When your furnace breaks down or your car doesn't start in the morning, talk kindly to it. Let go of your idea of controlling the day or villainizing the season. Just go with what shows up — with the ice, the snow, and the cold.

socking covered feet in front of a fireplace

9. Seek Out the Warmth of a Fireplace

Richard J. Foster in his book Prayer describes the state of bliss and contentment he experienced as a seven year old in front of a fireplace:

"Let me describe my grateful center to you. I was seven years old, and my parents were trying to move to the West Coast. Our relative poverty, however, caught up with us, and we were forced to winter in the cabin of an uncle in the Rocky Mountains. The time was difficult for my parents, I am sure, but for me it was glory. . . .

My most vivid memory is of the fireplace. (I had never been around a fireplace before, all our heat heretofore having come from the coal furnace in our Nebraska home.) Every night I would pull out the bed that hid in the couch by day and climb under the heavy quilts, my head less than ten feet away from the crackling warmth. Night after night I would fall asleep, watching this strange yellow blaze that warmed us all. I was in my grateful center."

Revel in the cold for giving you a chance to savor the peace and healing balm of warmth, whether it be a fireplace or some blankets you crawl under when you are shivering. And don't pass up pressing your body up against the warm body of the one you love!

10. Be Thankful for Your Winter Apparel

Think about your special winter apparel that sits in the closet all year long until winter arrives. Lavish thanks and praise upon this clothing that protects you from the very real dangers and damage that severe cold can do to your body — especially your extremities. Thanks are due to winter coats, scarves, hats, muffler, earmuffs, gloves, boots, long underwear, and knitted face-masks.

11. Deal with Winter Depression

In his book Artic Dreams, Barry Lopez writes about the cold winters in this environment and the depiction of the season as a nightmare that sometimes deranges people:

"Winter darkness brings on the extreme winter depression the Polar Eskimo calls perlerorneq. According to the anthropologist Jean Malaurie, the word means to feel 'the weight of life.' To look ahead to all that must be accomplished and to retreat to the present feeling defeated, weary before starting, a core of anger, a miserable sadness. It is to be 'sick of life,' a man Named Imina told Malaurie. The victim tears fitfully at his clothing. A woman begins aimlessly slashing at things in the iglu with her knife. A person runs half naked into the bitter freezing night, screaming out at the village, eating the shit of dogs. Eventually the person is calmed by others in the family, with great compassion, and helped to sleep. Perlerorneq. Winter."
— from Winter

Although it may not manifest with these extreme symptoms, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real problem for many people during the winter months. If you suffer from this mood disorder, consider light therapy or talk with your doctor about other treatments. If you are not affected by winter darkness, be compassionate toward and sensitive to the needs of those who are.

wintry trees

12. Be Patient

In Renewal, Eknath Easwaran writes about patience as a virtue:

"Patience is one of the most valuable allies in the difficult journey of self-transformation. . . . When you are able to be patient with others, you can be patient with yourself, and that will give you all the inner support you need to persevere. . . . But patience can't be acquired overnight. It's just like building up a muscle. Every day you need to work on it, to push its limits. When people tell me they don't have any patience, I always say, 'that's only because you've never pushed it.' "

Winter gives us ample opportunities to build up our patience muscle and to push its limits. Be careful and vigilant for all the obstacles thrown into our path by bad weather, breakdowns, stressed people, and other potential patience builders. When you are out shopping, be patient with other walkers where there is a narrow path and you must let others go before you. Be patient with traffic jams caused by accidents, icy roads, and dense snow. Be patient with breakdowns in your home, plowing services which dump snow where it wasn't meant to go, and weather reports which are misleading and/or confusing.

13. Slow Down

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen monk, has stated: "Life is so short, we should all move slowly." Winter affords us the opportunity to physically slow down. It is hard to walk through snow and when we are walking on ice, we must watch our steps carefully. Take a meditative walk down the block where you live and be thankful for winter and the chance to move slowly through the world.

14. A Winter Prayer

This prayer is from Edward Hays's Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim. This book has a whole section of prayers for winter.

"I pray for the needs of all those across this small planet
who are in great need this day, and especially for ___________.
I am mindful of all those who suffer because of the winter weather,
of all who suffer because they experience the winter of war,
of all those who suffer the cold winds of oppression and violence,
May all who suffer this day experience your compassion
through their brothers and sisters.
May this morning prayer awaken me
to turn to the needs of all who ask me for help this day
into my personal needs.
May this brief time of prayer make me aware
that the needs of those whom I assist are really your needs.
Grant me the grace to see you in all whom I meet and serve.
With that sacred vision
this prayer of communion with you will have no end.
Blessed and beautiful are you my God.
May your light be my sun this winter day.

Days 1 - 7 8 - 1415 - 2122 - 28