Archives For Winter

sun

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis

This might sound bizarre. In fact, it is bizarre. But sometimes, when the sun is at its warmest and the skies at their bluest, I find myself longing for winter.

It’s not that I don’t love the sun. I cherish its warmth, the way the world feels more optimistic when it shines, the way it accentuates the vivid spectrum of colours that paint our world. Yet something within me pines for winter.

***

I think it is because when I am enclosed by the cold grip of winter and defined by the darkness that it brings, I appreciate and recognise the importance of the sun more.

Those things I love about the sun – its brightness, its warmth, its life – I recall only rarely while I can feel its gentle warmth upon my face. The value of the sun is diminished by its constant presence.

Rather like a low hum in a quiet room, after a while it becomes background noise, until it is either muted or drowned out by a louder voice.

This is not the sun’s fault, but my own.

***

From this, two challenges – or perhaps opportunities – present themselves. One is to continue to nurture the memory of the sun during the winter period. To recall its hope, remember its beauty, to cling to its life during the dark months.

The other is to recognise the presence of the sun while it shines. To not become so familiar with it that it becomes merely a background hue. To appreciate it in the here and now.

To bask in its warmth. To live in it.

***

“And then her heart changed, or at least she understood it; and the winter passed, and the sun shone upon her.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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blossom

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

***

All around, trees are blossoming. Up and down the roads surrounding my office, the trees are showing off their finest pinks, delicate petals proclaiming that spring has finally beaten winter.

I love the annual reminder that winter is only for a season. It seems that each year, just as it seems winter has set in for good, glimmers of spring appear. Slowly. First, a bud. There’s a long way to go, but there’s a whisper of hope in the air.

The bud grows. Day by day it becomes bigger as the blossom inside prepares for its moment. If you look closely, you can see hints of what is to come as the bud bursts at its seams.

And then one day you wake up and there, in all its glory, is a tree shimmering with blossom.

***

It doesn’t last forever. This display of breathtaking colours will depart all too soon, leaving nothing but memories and brown petals on the pavement.

But each year we know that despite the depths of winter, spring will triumph, announcing itself in a burst of colour.

***

“What a strange thing! To be alive beneath cherry blossoms.” Kobayashi Issa

A life of seasons

September 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I’m quite a big fan of weather.

It’s not the coolest thing. But I love huge variations in weather, from blisteringly hot summer days to bitingly cold winter nights. There’s something about the ever-changing nature of the weather which I find intriguing.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about seasons – both seasons of weather and seasons of life.

In nature, seasons are part of the intrinsic cycle of life. Spring offers new life and green shoots, which bloom and flourish in summer. Autumn heralds the beginning of the end of this time of colour, whilst winter superficially seems dead but nests next spring’s hope underneath its cold blanket.

This cycle comes and goes each year. There are variations, yes, but the overall cycle is the same. Without fail.

***

I think the same is true of our lives. I don’t know whether we follow the same set pattern that nature does. I think it’s probably not quite as structured and planned as that.

But our lives go in seasons. There are times when we are full of hope and expectation, when there are new beginnings and opportunities. These times often turn into summer seasons, when we flourish and grow.

Then there are autumn times, when it can feel as if nothing is happening and we are treading water. During autumn, it can feel a little as if the good things are dying off, as if we are losing them. Autumn invariably leads to winter, where we find ourselves hopeless, lost and without direction.

A life of seasons.

***

Ideally, we’d be able to lose the winter season, make the spring and autumn shorter and spend most of our time in the summer. Ideally. But in the same way that nature would not be able to survive on just one season alone, the same is true with us.

The seasons all have a value, all have a purpose. Even if sometimes, that purpose can be painful. The winter season can be long and bleak. But it teaches us to trust, to remember that spring and summer will come, and to rely on the roots we have grown in the warm seasons.

Seasons come and go, but God’s love never once falters or fails, never lessens or becomes conditional. Despite the seasons, God’s love runs through them all.

That promise is what we root ourselves in.

***

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” Lewis Carroll