Saturday, January 14, 2012

Meditations on Winter

dark winter way, a photo by Laenulfean on Flickr.
Today I discovered one of the startling graces of God: winter. The sleeping, the resting, the apocalyptic desertion. Look at the landscape with fresh eyes--it's bleak. A nuclear attack has reduced every twig and flower to paper-dry shadows, shearing the trees, sucking the life out of every living thing. Even the sounds have ceased--no more thrumming insects or croaking frogs or twittering birds--only the rustle of brown thorns against dead bark.

But the world is not dead, only sleeping. Sap is gathering, stirring, replenishing. The forest is dormant, but not frozen; those old, itching fingers are preparing to be new again. People need to listen to the trees. They need to notice that for one season out of four they rest. They let go of their bloody leaves and shrink into themselves, fading into the rest of the world. 

We can see things in wintertime: landmarks on distant hillsides, always cluttered with green, stand out starkly. The underbrush has retreated: feet wander aimlessly over miles of forest without tripping. The sun's heat is, for once, tamed: we can exert ourselves, sweatless. It's a gift.

Here is the crux: shouldn't we winterize ourselves? When was the last time that you stopped, stopped dead, and cast off the burdens you've worked so hard to bind onto your back? When was the last time you rested? There is no restoration without rest. God's grace is this: He created nature for times of rest as well as for times of activity. He did the same thing for you. 

It's Not Dead. It's Only Sleeping.

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