Wintering: A Season to Foster GrowthFeb 21, 2023
Can you pinpoint the current season of your life? When life is moving along smoothly and you are coasting through each day, you probably don’t even think about the seasons. However, when you are wintering, you are acutely aware that something is amiss.
Katherine May defines wintering as "a fallow period in life when you're cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of an outsider."1
Wintering is a season to turn inward and retreat from the hustle for a period of time. According to May, “doing these deeply unfashionable things-slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting-is a radical act now, but is essential.”
I am presently navigating a season of wintering in my own life. Part of this wintering emerged when I began to question deep layers of identities that were no longer serving me. I thrive on getting things done. My identity has been wrapped up in productivity and accomplishments. Contemplating my core values required stepping back, slowing down, and rethinking what matters most.
I am also in perimenopause, which feels like puberty 2.0. Rest and self-care were not top priorities in my life until this moment. This is a normal biological process, yet it has been an adjustment. Some of my creativity and many former activities now lay fallow, resting underground for a winter period until the spring comes. However, this season is also brimming with depth, passion, and new adventures.
My dissertation includes research on viticulture (wine making) in ancient Israel. A vibrant vineyard takes years to produce and requires knowing when to prune and how to protect the vines in various seasons. In colder climates, the vines were taken off the trellis and covered in several inches of dirt to protect against harsh winter temperatures. This process is often referred to as “putting the vines to bed.” In late winter, the grapevines were pruned to stimulate new growth for the springtime, and then were raised back onto the trellis.
In John 15 Jesus reminds his followers that he is the “true” vine, while they are the branches. The branch can’t bear fruit without the vine; they work in tandem.
“He raises up every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit" (John 15:2).
Typically, the Greek word αἴρω in John 15:2 is translated as “removes.” However, this same word is translated numerous times throughout the New Testament as “to lift up or raise up.” I chose to translate it as “raises up” because it reminds me of the movement from wintering deep within the ground to rising up into a harvest of fruit in the springtime.
I am a branch currently wintering underground, but I am confident that when the spring comes I will rise again to bear fruit. The pruning fosters growth so that the vine can produce. I may feel a bit fallow at the moment in my wintering state, but this is just one of many seasons of life.
By Jennifer Metten Pantoja
1 Katherine May, "Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times" (2020)