The Winter of Listening

Today is my friend’s birthday. I’ve learned a lot from them over the years and this reading of The Winter of Listening by David Whyte is for them. 

Breithlá shona duit, mo chara


Winter’s Cloak

Today’s exercise began with a poem that I heard a year ago for the first time, at the Winter Assembly of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I loved it on first hearing. It is Winter’s Cloak by Joyce Rupp. Here is a recording of me reading it aloud.

Winter's Cloak by Joyce Rupp. Recorded as part of #honouringthedarkness #poetry

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I love Winter.

I live in Ireland, temperate land where Winter means darkness and short days. It rarely snows here, we are too close to the seas. Winter here means cold and damp, but the contrast with the summer is the lack of light. In the Summer, I feel guilty about spending time indoors reading and resting. In the Summer, a sunny day means I have to go out and enjoy it. Sunny days are a rarity even in Summer.

In Winter, however, I am allowed to be as introverted as I like. I can lie under a blanket reading a book, writing or just being, and it is a day well spent.

I am fortunate to live in a place where hunger and starvation are no longer common. I have hot showers and a warm house and food that is transported around the world to huge supermarkets so that even in the late months of winter/early spring, I always have food. I do not hunger. Most of the world is not so fortunate. I try not to forget how fortunate I am, and I am grateful for my own well being.

I love the darkness, and I welcome the returning light at solstice and throughout the year. And yet, I do not always give myself the darkness of winter’s cloak. I blind myself with the bluescreen light of facebook, of netflix. Perhaps a little more, I would like to wrap myself in the darkness and stillness of winter’s cloak, and rest, just being. Just being.

This post is day six of my personal responses to ‘Honouring the Darkness’, a ten day reflective period leading up to the winter solstice, facilitated by daily emails from Janelle Hardy at

Dates with Happiness

Day 92 of #100Daychallenge

There’s a storm blowing outside and my thoughts have turned to the winter. Samhain has passed. Summer has gone. Winter is here. The darkness is growing and the world is turning inwards. I am focusing on working for the winter, with the promise of new adventures in the spring.

The coming months look like long hours of work, long nights, cups of tea and stories on kindle. Taken as a whole, the length of winter can be hard to face.

Having dates with happiness throughout the winter months helps me. Having dates throughout the whole year helps me. It’s not easy when the exciting thing seems a long time away. It’s easier when there are lots of little moments of adventure scattered through the year, always within reach.


Samhain Ritual

Day 81 of #100Daychallenge


Ritual nourishes me. Yesterday, I celebrated Samhain at a friend’s place. There were about thirty people at the ritual. Samhain is always a significant festival for me. It marks the end of summer, the start of winter, and symbollically it is a time of letting go. During our ceremony, a figure representing the old woman of winter from Irish legend comes into the circle carrying a cauldron. Each of us, had written a thing we wanted to let go of in our lives, and we gave that to her. She then put them in the central fire before leaving the circle. For myself, I thought about what sort of relationship I wanted to have with life, and wrote down the behaviour that is keeping me from that. Ritual nourishes me and supports me in my life.

You have arrived

Day 34 of #100Daychallengeleaves-95069_640

I saw today that you’d arrived.
You’ve been here for a while.
The leaves were curling on an oak today.
A birch had lost all its lower leaves.
It’s sad to see you here but you’re welcome here.
Gather me in, find me in darkness
And as leaves curl and drop, bring me with them.
Let me find stillness in your cold days.
Let me find rest in your short days.
Bring me stillness.
 And I will welcome you.