Cold Comfort: Blessings in Winter

Cold Comfort: Blessings in Winter

“Cold enough for ya?” said the stranger with a grin.   I laughed and rolled my eyes in reply in a moment of camaraderie between fellow northerners.  Winter in our city is cold, long and dark – a season I often trudge through with resignation and a certain pride in my Albertan hardiness.  How can sub-zero temperatures and minimal hours of daylight be a blessing?  God speaks through all creation.   Winter’s voice- dark, cold and starkly beautiful -invites me to listen.

Darkness comes early and leaves late in the winter. The dwindling hours of daylight challenge me to reflect on the darkness in the world and in myself in the light of God’s mercy.  I love the light, yet I know that some things can only be seen in the dark – stars, for example.  Some of Canada’s parklands are being converted to Dark Sky Preserves – areas free of light pollution – where the night sky can be viewed in its full glory.  Winter shows me that my soul too needs a “preserve” of holy darkness in which I can walk in God’s light, free from the glare of an artificially lit, screen-dominated world.  Thank you, Winter, for the welcoming darkness.

Winter’s landscape is beautiful in its simplicity and stillness.  Only God sees the life that hides in the seeds gone to ground and the slow running sap of the bare trees. I feel a nudge to declutter, simplify and empty so I can sense the Spirit flowing in me.  I want to be like a field of new snow waiting for God to make the first footsteps. When I look at branches stripped of leaves, all the crooked and broken ones exposed, I feel their vulnerability and courage.  Me? I  like to keep my flaws under wraps. Winter’s way points me towards a different path, a radical simplicity, honesty and trust in God’s eternal desire to transform, redeem and bring new life.  Thank you, Winter, for the richness in your seeming emptiness.

Winter weather calls me to come in out of the cold, literally and figuratively. It’s a time to gather with friends for comfort food in warm places, and look for ways to bring in the ones who have no safe, warm home or food.  It invites me also to gather my scattered self together and rest in the warmth of God’s love.  Thank you, Winter, for your call to be hospitable.

God of Winter, thank you for the many blessings hidden in this harsh season. And, yes, I’m cold enough, thank you!

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