As a child growing up in Wyoming, my family would go hiking and camping every summer in the Medicine Bow National Forest. One of our favorite camping spots was a place named Vedauwoo (pronounced Vee-duh-Voo). Vedauwoo is known for its strange piles of boulders. This is also a great place to find various types of evergreen bushes and trees, and even to this day I still go hiking there to forage for items I use regularly in my natural remedies.
Surrounded by all the various types of pine trees as a child, I had no idea that when I grew up I’d discover they contained one of the most fascinating natural medicines. There is an age old remedy I have discovered that has worked wonders for me and my family in repeatedly beating the common cold and flu, sometimes even in the harshest of conditions.
Field Tested Pine Remedy
During a 19-day course on POW training and wilderness survival while in the Army, I gained some valuable practical experience using these evergreen trees to treat various ailments. The chief ailment I used it for was a common cold/flu.
It was November in North Carolina, when I came down with a fairly severe cold. Staying as silent as possible in our small hide site, piled next to 5 other team mates, I must have also reached a fever since I was shivering while huddled in my 3-layer sleeping bag. Not wanting to be medically dropped from the course, and also just wanting to try ANYTHING to make me better, I began making cups of pine needle tea. This is before I was aware of what terpenes were and how they worked in breaking down mucus and other buildup in the body. All I knew was that my SERE instructor told me it had lots of Vitamin C in it.
I would take water from a stream, boil it, and add the pine needles. I also shared some rose-hips I’d found with my teammates. My cough was barely noticeable after the first night. A cough can often worsen when exposed to cold air. I was cautiously observant in case my conditioned worsened. It did not. My fever also quickly subsided after the first night. Quite surprisingly, nobody else on my team came down with any illness despite our close proximity sleeping in our cramped hide site. The hide site was literally in the nook of a hill where we piled branches and leaves over a few logs and made a makeshift cave. It blended in nicely with the surrounding landscape, but it was like sleeping in a sardine can. Nevertheless, I quickly beat the flu just in time for us to be thrown in a van with bags over our heads, headed to the more brutal part of our training. The rest of my time in that course could have been a disaster had it not been for the application of pine needle tea.
10 Years Later
Since I left the military, I have used this cold and flu treatment every year and have passed it along to my family with similar results. I decided this year to further refine my plant based medicine bag. After a brief search, I found three great tasting combinations you can try that will further boost the already reliable homeopathic treatment of Pine Tip Tea.
Just as it sounds, the tips of the pine boughs can be harvested and simmered in hot water. Although any green pine needles will make an effective tea, the new growth at the ends of the pine boughs hold the freshest and most readily available nutrients. These can be harvested throughout the year, but are perhaps most potent when gathered in the spring. If properly dried, the pine tips can be kept for over a year and still maintain their potency. Keeping the dried bits in a cool, dark, dry area like a root cellar is probably the best condition for their preservation.
Why is it so Effective?
You may also be aware of turpentine, which comes from distilled pine tree sap. There is a small amount of this age-old medicine all throughout the tips of the branches as well. The plant terpenes (after which Turpentine is named) are known to prevent infection in cuts and may even help break down lymphatic buildup in your body that lead to various other illnesses. They also help break down mucus in the body which is amazing when you have a chest cold.
Pine Tip Tea pairs nicely with many other herbal remedies including thyme (used for digestive issues as well as treating coughs), camphor (a powerful cold remedy), and even onion (same). These are all useful not only in the treatment of the symptoms of a cold or flu, but they contain the ingredients your body can use to heal itself far more rapidly than it would if you just gave it drugs. The more we examine nature based medicine, we see how man-made chemicals that are engineered by billion dollar companies really only mask the symptoms of an illness yet do very little to help the body heal itself. We will do better.
Try These Three, Tea-hee
Feel free to expand on these three simple Pine Tip Tea recipes. Your sense of smell will let you know if your body needs or wants any of the properties in the concoctions. As a bonus, these are all safe to give to children, and have been used for many centuries in both early western and native medicine. I have given this to my own daughter throughout her life with good effect. Note: I like to mince the pine a bit if using the long needles, and simmer for 10-20 minutes. You can even let it sit overnight. This is to draw out the maximum amount of nutrients from the pine tips. You can try steeping it like a normal tea as well, as I have not scientifically tested which method is better.
Thanks for reading! If you have any natural remedies you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them and perhaps publish them as our next featured article! Submit completed articles and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org Check out more remedies at our Wellness page.
Bees Know Best
Bees are truly a marvelous part of God’s creation and one I draw inspiration from daily as I begin the journey of tending to their homes and lives.
By: Pie Lady Bear
I will often sit and watch them. The importance of their continuous coming and going is apparent even at a distance. Bees are truly a marvelous part of God’s creation and one I draw inspiration from daily as I begin the journey of tending to their homes and lives.
The substances that a hive uses to sustain and thrive are ones that we can also greatly benefit from, and, as the winter weather sets in and lips become chapped, were the illumination behind an impromptu batch of lip balm that you may also find useful!
Beeswax; If you can find it from a local beekeeper, who has taken it from a brace comb that is built in awkward places or melted down frames that are no longer in use, the benefit is the added propolis which is a glue-like material made by the bees from tree resins to seal cracks in their hive and contains exceptional healing properties as well as smelling incredible. My husband, DreadNaught Bear, has been making healing salves with beeswax, pine resin, and sunflower oil long before I began keeping bees. You can find his recipe in the second issue of the Beartaria Times Magazine to cure all that ails you! Beeswax can also be found at a local health food store or taken from pure beeswax candles.
Coconut oil; I prefer organic and use it in my cooking as well, so it’s worth buying a jar.
Peppermint oil; I only added three drops for the small glass jar of lip balm as using more would cause a slight burning sensation and takes away from the amazing smell of the beeswax.
I made my lip balm in a small jar that is placed in a pot on the stove with about an inch of water surrounding it and a covered lid. Turn on low heat and frequently check until the wax and coconut oil have melted, then add the few drops of peppermint oil, stir and allow to cool. That’s it! So simple, and depending on the amount you would like to make or the size of your container, I went with a ratio of 2:1 coconut oil to wax, and that made for a smoother consistency. God Bless the Bears as we strive to focus our lives around the good, the true, and the beautiful 🤎
How to Survive the Winter… Literally
This piece will serve to familiarize the reader with the signs, symptoms, and treatments of these common, sometimes deadly winter afflictions, as well as the importance of preparedness and proper training in recognizing and treating them early.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…To Suffer a Cold Injury
Recognition, Prevention and Treatment of Common Cold-Weather Medical Emergencies
By: Patrick Norton of ARTOS Survival
Right around this time of year, bears of all types are heading out into the wilderness to partake in their favorite winter sports. Be it hunting, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling, the risk of suffering a cold injury greatly increases in the late fall, summer, and early spring months. Bear in mind that snow and freezing temperatures are not required for one to experience a cold-related emergency. Even in warmer climates, especially in places such as the desert or at sea, where drastic temperature drops are common at night or during and after a submersion incident, hypothermia, frostbite, or non-freezing cold injury can also occur. This piece will serve to familiarize the reader with the signs, symptoms, and treatments of these common, sometimes deadly winter afflictions, as well as the importance of preparedness and proper training in recognizing and treating them early.
First, it is crucial to have a baseline understanding of the physiology of heat production and heat loss in the human body. There are three ways the body can produce heat on its own: resting metabolism, exercise, and shivering. When the body is given energy as food, chemical reactions take place to convert energy to power the mechanisms that keep it alive and allow it to work. One of these energy conversions is turning the potential energy in food to heat energy. This resting metabolic rate will increase a bit in cold conditions, but it does not provide enough heat to sustain life in winter weather. The second form of heat production is physical exercise. Exercise is a great heat producer, whether through short bursts of intense exercise or constant, moderate motion. Exercise does have some constraints and concerns, however, that need to be considered. Athletic ability, conditioning, stamina, and endurance, as well as the availability of energy in the form of food and water, are limitations for exercise. Sweat production is another concern associated with cold injury. These highlight the importance of physical fitness, acclimatization, proper nutrition and hydration, effective winter clothing and layering, and activity regulation, which will all be addressed later. The last physiological method of heat production is shivering. Yes, shivering is a mechanism for the body to create heat, not just a symptom of hypothermia. Shivering will be addressed more later in the hypothermia sections of this article, but essentially shivering is a response to a drop in core body temperature that creates heat at a rate of approximately five times that of resting metabolism. Again, this form of heat production is fed by food, water, and oxygen. Shivering also decreases dexterity, hindering the victim’s ability to perform essential tasks required to keep warm in the first place. This will bring us to the importance of preparedness and prevention of heat loss, but first, a crash course on the forms of heat loss.
There are four types of heat loss that occur in cold environments: conduction, convection, radiation, and evaporation. Conduction is heat transfer through direct contact, for example, body heat transferring to the rock one may be sitting on. Convection can be thought of as heat loss due to air passing over the patient. Radiation is the indirect transfer of heat from a hot to a cold object. Heat is also lost through evaporation, either by sweating or breathing. To maintain adequate body temperature, it is imperative that the outdoorsman mitigate heat loss from all three forms of heat transfer and evaporation. When this is combined with proper nutrition, hydration, and activity regulation, the chances of avoiding cold injury will greatly improve.
The most important thing to do to fight hypothermia and other cold injuries is to establish preventative measures to ensure it does not happen in the first place.
In order to be prepared, one must also carry the proper gear and supplies, research the area’s conditions, acclimate to the environment and make a solid plan for the trip and for possible emergencies. Also, before the wilderness enthusiast even leaves the house, he must train! This training includes learning effective and efficient wilderness living, survival, and medical skills such as camp, shelter, and fire building, camp cooking skills, proper wilderness layering, smart activity regulation, and wilderness first aid (WFA). All too often, many people go out thinking they know exactly what to do because they have either been hunting or snowmobiling for so long that they automatically have gained survival or medical skills through osmosis, or they have watched enough hours of YouTube to know it all. This is not the case! Assume you will not rise to the occasion when an emergency happens. In general, these are the people that get into critical situations or die, whether due to cold injury or something else. Take the time to learn proper skills. Teaching all of these skills is beyond the scope of this piece, but learning to make effective shelter and fire quickly, efficiently, and safely. Learn to properly layer and regulate exercise.
The most effective and easy way to layer is the modular, three-layer system. This includes a form-fitting, moisture-wicking base layer of wool or synthetic fabric; wool is preferred in the author’s opinion because it does not become stinky due to sweating. The second piece of this system is an insulating layer, also of wool or synthetic material. Down layers are acceptable only in dry cold. This layer should not be too tight; the idea is to hold heat in the negative airspace of the fabric. The final layer is a breathable, waterproof shell. Gore-Tex is preferred, but there are other materials that do the trick as well. The purpose of this layer is to protect the wearer from wind and water while allowing the other layers to breathe and expel any moisture that has built up. Do not forget to also wear warm headwear, footwear, and hand-wear. Do not over-tighten footwear, as this can inhibit circulation to the feet and toes. The following is a simple example of how to employ this modular system along with proper exercise management. Imagine a snowshoer wearing this three-layer system at the bottom of a fairly steep slope. The next step in the expedition is to get to the top. The wearer is fairly certain that he will create heat through the exercise required to get to the top, so he sheds his middle, insulating layer. He begins to climb but maintains a moderate level of exertion using a steady pace, following a switchback pattern up the hill rather than forging straight up the hill as fast as he can to mitigate sweat production, which could freeze or increase his chances of hypothermia or other cold injuries. If the hill climb is quite long, he can take frequent rests as he begins to feel himself start to sweat or overexert. Certainly, by the time he gets to the top, he will want to take a good rest, eventually donning the insulating layer again before cooling off too much. This is an easy-to-follow example, but it is important to be strategic and diligent, no matter how complex the scenario is.
In concluding the topic of prevention, adequately fueling the body is required to perform exercise and simple tasks and to power the metabolic heat production mechanisms addressed earlier in this article. Be sure food is consumed regularly, in proper amounts, and according to the intensity of activity. Remember, food intake should be increased in colder environments, whether intense exercise is involved or not. Carbohydrates are converted into kinetic and heat energy very quickly, which is likened to tinder in fire building. Fats and proteins will provide more sustained energy, comparable to larger pieces of firewood. Lastly, proper hydration is of the utmost importance to prevent not only heat injury but cold injury as well. It allows for adequate perfusion to supply oxygen and nutrients to the cells and to circulate warm blood to the vital organs and extremities. Pre-hydrate before activity and hydrate often during activity. Make sure to have electrolytes available so the body can absorb the water it is supplied. Under normal circumstances, food provides the body with enough electrolytes, but under strenuous activity, the rule of thumb is one liter of electrolyte replacement for every two liters of regular water.
If these measures fail, cold injuries may happen. There are different types of cold injuries, and each has different levels of severity. Cold injury may also occur in conjunction with other injuries. This is why in a wilderness setting, the primary patient assessment not only includes airway, breathing, and circulation assessment and intervention but spinal disability and environmental measures as well. It is recommended to take a WFA course, at minimum, to learn to properly carry out a patient assessment, which every patient deserves. The first type of cold injury is hypothermia.
The key to treating hypothermia is to recognize the signs and symptoms early and treat them immediately.
The signs and symptoms of hypothermia vary depending on severity. These include shivering, goosebumps, loss of fine motor function, stiff extremities, clumsiness, poor decision-making, and confusion for mild hypothermia. When these symptoms increase and the patient begins to become more uncoordinated, including an altered gait and falling, and begins presenting signs of obvious mental status changes, the patient is considered to have moderate hypothermia. These symptoms are often called “the umbles” or stumbles, fumbles, and mumbles. To treat mild and moderate hypothermia, dry the patient, dress him in warm clothing, move him to a warmer location protected from wind, and encourage movement if possible. In moderate cases, the patient may need to be put in a sleeping bag with an insulating pad between him and the ground. The patient should be given warm drinks with plenty of sugar if he can swallow. The caregiver should also put hot, but not scalding, water bottles or chemical heat packs on critical places such as the torso, back, armpits, and groin, with a layer of clothing in between. Once the patient is warmed, he may begin to have solid food such as candy or energy bars progressing to full meals with fats and protein. Fires with a reflector wall or space blanket will also help rewarm the patient. Most times, rewarming a mildly hypothermic patient can be done in the field, and the patient may continue the trip once ready. In moderate cases, this becomes more difficult but can still be attainable. Keep in mind the rewarming process may take a long time and may not always succeed in the field. Be persistent and do not allow for any more heat loss.
If hypothermia progresses, the patient may stop shivering due to energy depletion and show a profound decrease in mental status, muscle rigidity, and lowered heart and respiratory rate. This is severe, or profound, hypothermia, a life-threatening condition. The patient likely will not be able to swallow, so giving warm drinks and food will not be possible. In cases of moderate or severe hypothermia, the patient should be put in a hypothermia wrap (hypo-wrap) or “hypo-burrito .”Many useful modifications can be made to improve the hypo-wrap, and it can be viewed online or learned in a wilderness medicine course. However, the basic principles of the hypo-wrap remain the same in all iterations. Begin by heating water bottles or activating chemical heat packs. Lay the patient down on a large, waterproof sheet, such as a plastic tarp or drop cloth. Put the patient in at least one sleeping bag or wrap them in blankets with an insulating pad underneath. Place the bottles or heat packs in the critical areas mentioned above, including by the feet. Finally, wrap the patient in the waterproof sheeting tucking the edges under the patient to keep warmth inside the wrap. A cloth or scarf may be placed over the patient’s mouth to prevent evaporative heat loss. The photos in this article show how this should look. When handling this patient, be very gentle so as not to cause cold blood to circulate to the heart. This may cause a life-threatening heart arrhythmia. Keep in mind that the patient’s pulse and respiratory rate may be difficult to detect, so go slow with the assessment. If they are absent, CPR may be performed. However, when in doubt, give only rescue breaths. Due to the preservative nature of cold, the patient may appear deceased, but given in-hospital warming and resuscitation care, many patients do survive. Remember: “the patient is not dead until he is warm and dead.” In most cases of mild or moderate hypothermia, evacuation is generally not necessary, and the patient can be rewarmed and continue acting as long as their mental status returns to normal. With severe hypothermia and some cases of moderate hypothermia, the patient should be quickly and gently evacuated to a higher level of care.
Frostbite is a condition in which tissue, most commonly that of the fingers, toes, ears, nose, and cheeks, freezes locally. The fluids between the cells of the tissue freeze, causing damage from the friction between the ice crystals and constriction of blood flow due to blood clots in the blood vessels of the affected regions. Frostbite is categorized in much the same way that burns are. Superficial frostbite, also known as frostnip, affects the outer layer of skin, causing it to appear red at first, then grey or white and waxy. The patient may experience numbness, tingling, or pain. Partial-thickness frostbite affects the tissues underneath the outer layer. The signs and symptoms for partial-thickness frostbite are much the same as for superficial frostbite, but the outer tissue may feel hard and frozen, while the underlying tissue may be softer. Full-thickness frostbite, occurring deeper into the muscle tissue of the patient, will also have similar signs and symptoms to those of superficial and partial-thickness frostbite, but the outer and underlying tissues will feel hard and frozen. It is difficult to determine the severity of frostbite until after it is rewarmed, but the presence of blisters within 24 to 48 hours of rewarming may indicate a partial-thickness injury, while the absence of blisters may indicate full-thickness frostbite. The treatment of frostbite is mostly the same across the board when it comes to severity. The patient should be brought to a warmer place, and wet clothes and jewelry should be removed. The affected area may be rewarmed if there is no chance of refreezing. This can be done by skin-to-skin contact or sticking fingers in the armpits, but rubbing is not appropriate as this can cause more damage. Do not expose the affected area to flame or rub snow on it. Ideally, the injured area should be rewarmed by submersion in 99°F – 102°F water. This is best done in a hospital setting since a constant warm water supply is required. Under-thawing can result in further damaged tissue. A flush of pink indicates that rewarming is taking place, and blisters may form. This process will be very painful. Pain management measures, such as Ibuprofen, are appropriate here. After the area is rewarmed, use extreme care when handling the area, place padding between fingers and toes and wrap and protect the rewarmed part. Encourage the patient not to use the injured body part. Quickly evacuate any person with frostbite, being gentle with the injured area. It is imperative to avoid rewarming if the chance of refreezing is high during evacuation. Preventative measures for frostbite are similar to those of hypothermia, with the addition of being especially careful to cover at-risk body parts and not touching frozen, metal objects. Frostbite is generally not life-threatening but can lead to loss of function and even amputation. Remember, it is easier and safer to stay warm than to treat a cold injury.
The final injury that will be addressed is a non-freezing cold injury, commonly known as trench foot. Trench foot is caused by prolonged exposure, usually in the feet, to cold, wet conditions, resulting in a lack of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the extremity. The symptoms of trench foot include swollen, cold, painful, white or gray, shiny or mottled feet. Pain, numbness, or tingling may occur. Capillary refill may be slowed. This can be tested by pressing fingers on the affected part and watching the color return to the area. This should take less than two seconds. In severe cases, blisters or gangrene and long-term disability may develop, as well as the need for amputation. If the patient experiences any numbness or tingling, be suspicious of developing a trench foot. Treatment of trench foot involves rewarming the affected area at room temperature, elevating the affected body part, and bed rest to avoid further trauma. Avoid trench foot by being very diligent in keeping your feet dry and warm. It is important to dry and change socks frequently, avoid over-tightening footwear, sleep with warm, dry feet and pay special attention to the needs of your feet, examining and massaging them at regular intervals. Sometimes getting wet, cold feet is unavoidable, but care should be taken to keep them as dry as possible by using terrain to your advantage and the proper equipment, including plenty of thick wool socks and galoshes or waterproof boots with gaiters. In general, non-freezing cold injuries do not require evacuation.
Although not exhaustive, this article will give the reader an informative introduction to understanding, recognizing, and treating some of the more common cold-related injuries that may occur during outings in the wilderness. The most important takeaway should be that preparedness and prevention are the preferred and safest methods for addressing these conditions. Proper research and training are encouraged before heading out into the wild. The author believes that it is incumbent upon everyone who works or plays outdoors to take a two-day wilderness first aid course to prepare for their next trip. Visit artossurvival.com for more details on WFA and survival courses in Northwest Montana, or find an instructor near you. Stay warm out there!
P.O. Box 1431 Eureka, MT 59917
The Reasons For Seasons
There are many reasons why we have seasons in this realm, and most of those reasons are never thought about by the vast majority of the population. Depending on your geographical location, seasons are typically associated with a complaint. It’s too hot during summer, too cold during winter, too rainy in autumn and spring. Folks tend to always have some sort of grief with the weather, and society has morphed holidays into a way of getting through these seasons. We look forward to the “holiday season” of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. We jam pack as many holidays into the course of a few months as we can to give ourselves something to look forward to in those wet, cold, dreary times. And in doing so I would argue that we’ve all but lost the true reasoning behind the changing seasons.
To start this, we need to view things (as best as we can) from God’s perspective, and his intentions for us. If His intentions were for us to always be fed, have no hardships in life, have superficial relationships with family/friends, and simply have fun all the days of our lives, then we would live in perpetual summer. The sunlight would beat down all day every day, producing monstrous crops year round. We wouldn’t have to worry about the cold. We wouldn’t have to plan ahead. We wouldn’t need to form communities with the sole intention of surviving.
But God’s intention for us in this life is not that. His intention is for us to grow. Growth requires dark times, both literally and metaphorically, as much as it requires what we associate with good times. A plant will die if it just has sunlight and gets no water. It will die if it doesn’t get the proper nutrition. It will die if it gets eaten by bugs. So to will we wither away if we don’t have a proper balance of perspectives, reflection, appreciation, nutrition, emotional experiences, etc. A plant will grow better with companion planting. Corn grows well with beans and squash. They provide what the other is lacking. We too require community to really thrive, and the seasons are the ultimate factor in the creation of these communities.
Spring: Springtime is a wondrous time to experience. You can feel the life energy in the air as the trees start sprouting leaves again, the birds start singing, the flowers start to bloom, and you see all of the newly born critters running about. The persistent cadence of short rains and bright sunlight tells everything that it’s time to wake from winter’s slumber and start to grow. This too happens within us. Every year at this time we all experience that kick of energy. We all start to plan our gardens, plan what we’d like to accomplish in our lives for the year, what projects we’d like to complete, and where we’d like to be when winter rolls around again. We look at our bodies, full of baked goods and potatoes and think “yeah, it’s time to start working out again”. We have a primal urge to better ourselves. This is what spring is for.
Summer: Summer is typically viewed as the time to have fun. There’s truth to this, but it’s also a continuation of spring in terms of growth. In spring we plan, and in summer we build and maintain. Our crops need constant tending. Our bodies need constant hydration and nutrition. And although it seems easier to get things done in summer, anyone with any level of perception knows that although energy levels are high, you can quickly burn out with the constant heat and endless light. Again, we require balance. Towards the end of summer we all look forward to autumn, because we know it will bring rest. But until that day comes, summer is when we work hard. And we should be working hard to ensure we have enough food and supplies for the cold months. As spring was to planning, so is summer.
Autumn: After 6+ months of heat, sunlight, growth, work, fun, excitement, and joy, autumn brings with it a much needed respite. We are not made to crush nonstop 100% of the time, and autumn forces us to slow down and rest. The waning hours of sunlight change our circadian clock and our bodies start producing melatonin earlier in the evening, making us tired at 6pm rather than 10pm. We no longer have an abundance of those high sugar fruits that are ripe off the tree (or we shouldn’t in a natural world), and we move towards meats and root vegetables which are stored more easily. This changes our digestive habits. It changes the flora in our digestive tract, which changes our mood. As we consume more calorie and nutritionally dense foods, our digestion slows, and we begin to slow. The almost manic energy that spring and summer bring fades into a calmness, a sleepiness, and a desire to curl up by a fire and read yourself to sleep under a blanket. Bears hibernate, as do we in a way. Autumn is designed to slow us down so we don’t burn ourselves out, to reflect on what we’d like to do differently next year, to appreciate all of the blessings we have, and most importantly to begin resting our bodies.
Winter: The most trying season of them all, winter brings with it bone chilling cold, a minimal diet (or so it would be in a natural world), little light, no growth, and many hardships. Winter is still, and it is still for a reason. Everything on this earth needs a period of deep rest. Every animal rests during winter. Most plants go entirely dormant. Some animals sleep for months. Some bugs literally get frozen into a state of suspended animation until springtime when they thaw and their hearts start beating again. This is all by God’s great design. We all know physical rest is needed. If you don’t sleep for a couple of days you begin to hallucinate and your body begins shutting down. Nobody will argue the importance of a good night’s sleep. But we also require emotional rest, mental rest, and spiritual rest. We need time to quietly reflect on not just the past year, but also on life itself. We need to reflect on our relationships, on our communities, on our jobs, on our life path, and on the trajectory we would like to see in our individual lives. God has given us a time to do this, and it is winter. It’s almost forceful, in that most things we enjoy are stripped away for months, leaving us with only our primal desires. We want warmth, dryness, and food. And in that state of primal survival, we reflect. As we grow our physical strength in spring and summer, we should be growing our emotional and spiritual strength during winter. When all is lost, and we are cold and wet and hungry, we should be looking to God. We should be looking to our communities. We should be looking to our families, who are often overlooked during the excitement of all the chores and projects the other seasons bring. Winter is often seen as a bad thing solely because of the weather, but if you tap into what is actually happening during these months it is beauty beyond compare. We are resting. We are sleeping more. We are reflecting. We are seeking God. Our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls are healing. Most people literally purge toxins in the form of illness. Again, this is perceived as a bad thing, but it is our body making us stronger and cleaner. Winter brings endless blessings.
Many people view life by the year. They judge themselves on what happened during the course of a giant block of time. But there are seasons within that year. And if we overlook them, and do not pay them their property dues and work with them rather than against them, we can be sure to come up short each year in regard to our self-imposed expectations. If you don’t rest during winter, you won’t have the energy to crush during summer. If you don’t crush during summer and prepare, then you won’t make it through winter.
These natural rhythms have been thrown off with the adoption of cross-country and worldwide shipping, artificial lighting, climate controlled buildings and cars, etc. In a natural world we should not be able to get into our heated vehicle, drive to a grocery store, buy a papaya, go home, and eat it in a fully lit room at midnight in the dead of winter. It is entirely unnatural. And as a result, we feel like we’re living unnatural lives. And it’s because we are. We are not honoring the seasons, the reasons they exist, and we are working against them. This is, in my opinion, directly fighting God’s plans, intentions, and reasoning.
To shift from an unnatural/artificial existence into one more in line with what we’re intended to experience, one can simply make small changes. Those changes will have a massive affect on your health in all areas of life. Instead of having every light on in the house all night after the sun sets in winter, have a small lamp on. Let your body start the production of melatonin. When you get tired, go to bed. Don’t stay up until 2am working. Eat hearty meals that are packed with nutrition and meat during winter, rather than exotic fruits. Let your body replenish itself with what it needs, rather than what tastes good. During summer, don’t sleep in until noon. We’re meant to wake when the sun rises. Don’t pull your curtains shut before bed to block out that morning light. Let it wake you. During autumn, allow yourself to slow down a bit. Things can wait. If you’re pushing through this season as if it’s still summer, you will most definitely crash. One way or another you will get that rest. It’s just a matter of if it’s in a calm manner, or in a state of deathly illness. The choice is always yours.
Honor the reason for the seasons, which is God’s great design, and your life will undoubtedly improve. You don’t need high energy at all times. On the contrary, we are meant to store energy for times of need. We then use that energy, and it needs to be replenished. Replenish yourselves during the times we’re meant to. Live a natural life, and you will not only strengthen yourself but will also bring so much more to your communities. Embrace the hot, the cold, the joy, and the melancholic stillness as blessings, because that’s exactly what they are.
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