First and foremost, I want to say how deeply grateful I am for your generous Christmas gifts, for your cards and words, for being the people of God as you continue to bless me and one another with your love, care and support. We are all so blessed to be a part of each others’ lives. I pray in 2018 we will not take each other or this faith community for granted. May we lift each other and the church as a whole in prayer everyday.
On another note, I thought I would share with you why I love winter, and hope that despite the frigid temperatures, we will go inward with God.
My hands hurt in the cold, as if ice creeps into my joints and freezes them. Yet, I love winter even in its cold contradiction of life itself. It forces me to go inward, to wrestle with the angel of isolation, to explore the innate loneliness of being human, and to measure the distance of separation between myself and others. Who am I when alone in the white solitude?
My mother always said that a home takes on a different persona during the winter—the world is shut out, the silence contained, family and friends drawn closer. Fires are lit against gray skies. Spines of books are pressed open, pens lifted to write. It’s a time for interiority, for paying attention to the longings for depth, poetry, faith, pondering, and for stillness, longings that go unsatisfied in the busyness of summer days.
I find myself staring out windows and shivering with delight at the bare trees and all that is revealed in their nakedness—crooked limbs, rough bark, places where life has gone out of them, the branches that are waiting to break off and plummet to earth. I see winter trees as a metaphor for my own life. My crooked ways, the rough places that need smoothing, the dead things that need to go. How they, like me, were created to stretch toward the heavens.
The trees remind me as well that there are seasons to my existence, seasons of deep joy, and seasons of deep sorrow. Seasons when all it does is rain make me forget that water falls from heaven to replenish underground aquifers where faith resides. But winter too, reminds me of my vulnerability, and of the necessity to come out of hiding with myself and with God. Also with each other, closing the distances within myself and between us.
Outside, the air fills my lungs with what feels like snow. The ground is rigid beneath my feet. I have to watch for icy patches, like every one, so I don’t slip and fall and break bones that I don’t even know the names of, yet they are part of me, like so many other things that go unnamed. I can see my breath some days, all white. I see the Holy Spirit in it, for a moment visible, moving over the surface of the earth, flowing out of me and into me with every exhale and inhale.
My mother has said many times, a house has to be lived in, otherwise it will crumble and collapse. So I thank God for winter, forced to live fully in this human house, while I invite God in to do repairs and to remodel, that I might reflect God’s image a little more, even in darkest days of the year.
May we all find light in the darkest days,