Winter — The Season of Reflection

“It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made

both summer and winter.”                 ~ Psalm 74:17

God, in His wisdom, created the seasons, each bearing unique gifts, strengths and insights. As we get in balance with the rhythms of nature, we see how our own lives reflect the energy and purpose of the seasons.

Spring, the time of planting, and summer, the season of patience and growth, called on us to initiate projects and work towards specific goals. We nurtured seeds of ideas, discarded “weeds” of distraction, and persistently tended to the goals we set, anticipating positive results.

If we grew impatient with our own spiritual progress on our life path, we had only to look to the fields for reassurance. The slow but steady growth of an acre of corn showed us that true transformation

can’t be rushed. We saw the divine timing in the need to first create deep roots to gather nourishment; then a sturdy stalk to withstand the strong winds of storms.

In the same way, we, too, needed to dig deep into our hearts to find the spiritual nourishment we needed to grow. Through prayer, meditation, journaling and expressing gratitude, we developed strong roots to anchor us, and the courage and self-esteem to stand tall in our truths. Confident in our growing awareness of God’s presence in our lives, we could weather any challenge to our faith. Because we’d taken the time to focus on the things we considered important for a purposeful life, we began to experience more of them each and every day.

Then, in God’s divine order, came the fall. Just as a single stalk yielded bushels of corn, it was the time to celebrate our accomplishments, express deep gratitude for all the blessings we harvested, and share our bounty with others.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”     ~ Edith Sitwell

Now, winter completes the circle of seasons, bringing us to the time for slowing down, deep introspection, and a chance to replenish body, mind and spirit.

Shorter days and falling temperatures bring us indoors, encouraging us to share warm fellowship with like-minded friends and enjoy the reassuring and familiar comforts of family.

As we seek escape from winter’s chill, we find solace in the unchanging progression of the seasons, each coming in divine order, and offering us a unique opportunity to nurture our own “inner garden” in harmony with God’s plan.

Now, in the relative quiet of winter, we instinctively shift our focus more inward, and take stock of where we are in our lives, and where we desire to be.

It’s the time to be even more mindful of what our bodies need in terms of rest and nutrition. Stretching, drinking more water, taking a brisk walk in the chilly air – listen to what your body wants to do, and honor it.

Simple pleasures with friends and family seem richer by the warm glow of firelight or candles. An old-fashioned game night can get the brain humming and the laughter flowing. Music truly does bring people together on many levels. Share an inspirational movie to warm the heart on frosty nights.

While simple fellowship is particularly sweet this time of year, the a strong spiritual foundation for the coming seasons. Winter invites solitary pursuits that enrich us, like journaling, meditating, and reading inspiring books. If you’re going on a long drive to gather with family or friends this season, consider getting an audio book to enjoy on the way. The time will fly by as you deepen your spiritual awareness.

“The holidays are only holy if we make them so.”     ~ Marianne Williamson

No matter what your religious beliefs, relish the transcendent energy of joy and unity this Holy season brings to all. Let your spiritual light shine, and be a beacon for others with your happiness, compassion and gratitude.

“If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.”     ~ Cyril Cusack

Just on the other side of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, we greet the arrival of 2015. This time of looking forward prompts us to mindfully reflect on our past. Looking back on 2014, it was a year of transformation and growth for OHI, and all those we touched.

On the physical level, we made significant upgrades in guest rooms, classrooms, and the grounds to create the most nurturing space for your transformative stay with us. New classes we introduced at OHI San Diego quickly won your overwhelming approval. “Pray, Eat, Live,” with delicious maintenance recipes and raw food preparation tips, is already a new favorite.

Another change we implemented in 2014 that will definitely continue in the New Year is a one-minute Alpha experience included in every class. Expressing gratitude, conscious breathing or a brief guided meditation all serve to quickly uplift guests into a state of higher consciousness, where it’s easier to touch into God’s grace.

Being in gratitude for the opportunity to be of service to you, our guests, has been a Nees family tradition for the past 38 years. My parents, Robert Sr. and Pamela Nees, together with my uncle, the Rev. Russell Nees and Raychel Solomon, were thrilled and humbled to see their idea for a place to detoxify the body, quiet the mind and renew the spirit take form in 1976.

When I was called to take over the leadership of OHI after my father and uncle died in 2002, it was an honor to be the second generation in my family to continue OHI’s mission to be a change agent for human kind by improving the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of everyone we touch.

I am proud to say my son Andrew has joined the OHI team this year, becoming the third generation to continue the tradition of service.

Reflecting on how far all of us have come this year by working together, I am excited and humbled to continue to lead OHI into a bright and promising future. May the divine grace, joy and peace of the season be with you and yours throughout the New Year.


Yours in prayer,

Robert P. Nees, Jr.


Optimum Health Institute

of San Diego and Austin