Sugar Loaf United Methodist Church
Pastor Susan Chupungco joined the Sugar Loaf United Methodist Church on July 1, 2014.
A native of California, Susan relocated to New Jersey to attend seminary at the Drew Theological School. She graduated with a Master of Divinity degree. Susan has been an assistant pastor at the Yorktown Heights United Methodist Church and she and her husband, Angelo, were married in June of 2014.
Susan loves long walks, knitting and yoga. She enjoys arts and crafts and anything that involves construction with wood, glue, scissors, nails, fabric, etc. She loves the outdoors and believes that fresh air and sunshine are two of the best things in the world.
Winter is an especially difficult season for me. I don’t enjoy the cold weather and I miss the sun a great deal. I often joke that I am solar powered. I am not the only one who finds that the cold days of winter with the extended hours of darkness are particularly difficult - more than 20% of the population suffers from some form of seasonal depression ranging from the very mild winter blues to the more severe seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
So what happens when something that is solar powered doesn’t have access to the sun? It goes dormant. Just look around the village or take a drive through the Catskill Mountains and you’ll see that most everything around you is brown and bare. The trees have shed their leaves and entered the dormant or resting season based on the dropping temperature and the decrease of daylight. It is a time when the trees conserve their resources and energy allowing them to be remobilized and used in the spring for a rush of growth.
Trees aren’t the only things that go dormant. Animals like turtles burrow deep into the mud and brumate for the season only to emerge again when the days grow longer and warmer. Bears go into hibernation; they slow down, conserve energy, and sleep away most of the winter on stored food and energy. The bulbs underground get frozen, store their energy and come out to a bright bloom in the spring.
Nature has such a great system, it is designed to take advantage of the changing seasons, allowing for times of rest and times of increased production. I often wonder if humans have moved too far away from our natural seasonal rhythms? There is a divinely ordained order to the way nature was designed, and yet we humans, driven by our insatiable desire for productivity seem to go against these natural inclinations. We drive ourselves too long, too hard, and often toward the wrong things. We work the same hours in the winter that we do in the summer even though there is less daylight and our bodies naturally want to slow down when the sun disappears in the late afternoon. Rather than identifying this desire to slow down and rest as a disorder, perhaps it is just our bodies natural and holy inclination to enter a season of rest like much of God's creation, and to conserve ourselves for the coming of a new season of growth.
For those of us who like checking things off our to-do lists and for whom a day well spent means having been productive, this idea of prolonged can be quite challenging, but the third chapter of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a season for everything. So in this season of winter, which officially began on December 21, I pray that you allow yourself to listen to the ways that God may be calling you into a season of rest. How might you conserve energy physically and spiritually so that you will be prepared for an upcoming season of growth? If you don’t allow yourself to be fully rested and renewed, it’s possible you won’t have enough stored energy for the new thing that God has in mind for you.
May you find the winter season a time to rest in God’s grace, and may you look forward with hope, to what God may grow in you.
Peace, Pastor Susan