We Give Thanks for the Blessings of Winter

We give thanks for the blessing of winter:

season to cherish the heart

to make warmth and quiet for the heart

to make soups and broth for the heart

to cook for the heart and read for the heart

to curl up softly and nestle with the heart

to sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart

to dream with the heart

to spend time with the heart

a long, long time of peace with the heart…

– Michael Leunig

After a very busy first half of the year and a wonderful Winter Solstice Working Bee, Mana Retreat is closed through the month of July, allowing time ‘to cherish the heart’ and to lavish extra care on our centre buildings and grounds. Last year we refurbished all of our bathrooms; this July the focus is on the kitchen and dining areas, doing minor repairs, painting shelves and refinishing kitchen bench tops and dining tables. Outside, work upgrading paths and creating a staff recreation area carried out at the solstice working bee, will continue. As usual we got heaps of work done at the working bee (a big Thank You to everyone who came and helped) while basking in the beauty that is Mana – and having a lot of fun!

The solstice ritual facilitated by Mana manager, Donna, provided a sacred space to turn inwards: ‘At this time of greatest darkness we help the light return by seeking a seed within that wants to grow into the light – what gifts do I have that will help give life to this?’ This is a question for the heart as well as the mind; a question for each of us to reflect on through these dark winter months as the days imperceptibly lengthen, bringing more light.

As Leunig notes, winter is also the season to ‘make soups and broth for the heart’. Soup is always part of the dinner menu at Mana, but it is in winter that the comforting warmth of steaming bowls of soup is perhaps most appreciated. Below is the recipe for one of Donna’s favourite winter ‘soups for the heart’ (serves 4).

Comforting Green Soup

  1. Gently sauté 2 chopped onions, several cloves of crushed garlic and 2 cups of chopped vegetables (kumara, pumpkin, potatoes) in 25 g of butter.
  2. Stir in 2 tsp of nutmeg, add 1 cup of water and simmer until all vegetables are soft.
  3. Add a large bunch of roughly shredded silver beet (no stalks) or spinach and cook a further few minutes until tender.
  4. Remove from heat, add 1 cup of cream (or milk, stock or water), then blend with a stick blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Heat through and serve with garlic bread.

May you enjoy the blessings of winter and take time to ‘cherish the heart’…

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