The Gift of Fallow Time

“I feel boring,” I exclaimed to my husband yesterday. While he protested, the statement rang true for me. As winter drags on, I’ve entered one of those periodic fallow times that punctuate my life. My daily meditation and writing practice is repetitive, more dutiful than revelatory. Even the activities that normally light me up feel prescribed rather than surprising.

It would be easy to pass this off as simply being stuck in a winter rut, but I think what’s actually happening is something more than that. I’m integrating a year of significant change, a year in which I broke through old patterns of behavior and belief to live with more freedom in the here and now. I’m coming to know myself in a new way, and that process can’t be rushed.

As I gaze at the flower garden, hidden under snow, I imagine the bulbs taking in nutrients from the surrounding soil and slowly melting drifts. That is the gift of fallow time, the unseen replenishing and renewal taking place at the deepest level, roots growing strong in darkness so flowers can bloom with exuberance in spring.

While a daffodil is sure to emerge from a daffodil bulb, I can’t say with any certainty that two months hence I’ll write a luminous poem, weave a shawl, or begin my next book. My time of integration and regrouping doesn’t have a known outcome. This process requires surrender and trust that something larger than me is breathing new energy into my roots for a reason I can’t yet see.

I still feel boring, but knowing that this is fallow time keeps me from being bored. I’m cultivating patience, paying attention to subtle inner messages, and readying myself for what comes next even though I can’t say what that will be. All I can do is trust that this fallow period will flower in its own way, probably when I least expect it. Sooner or later, my present state of inner quiet will pass, and creativity will ambush me from behind, knocking me out of my dutiful routines and into a new destiny and expression that “boring” can’t even imagine.

Danna Faulds, poet, yoga practitioner, and gardener, has published six books of poetry and a memoir, Into the Heart of Yoga: One Woman’s Journey.

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