To some, winter is only seen online.
Unlimited numbers of serene snowy photos fill Pinterest boards, especially leading up to Christmas. But those of us who live in a land winter regularly visits, know there’s a lot more to it. Glistening snowflakes fluttering though the sky over a landscape of crystal white may last for a while, but then the bone-chilling winds hit your face with far-below-freezing temperatures, and you find yourself choosing hibernation most days.
This is my most undesired season. And most of it isn’t portrayed through the online world of the picture perfect.
What’s visible to the eye isn’t the only thing that determines our environment. We have other senses that add to the joy or misery. And those are often the ones that detect things beyond what our eyes see or our mind has a chance to calculate. Smell, sound, touch, and our inner gut often tell us something.
This winter started harsh here. We’ve encountered snowstorms, horrific ice storms, too many consistent days of temperatures colder than I can ever remember, and all we long for is a few days above freezing.
The other day I began my morning the same way I do almost every day since winter began. After I roll out of bed early and double-up (or even triple-up!) on my leg-wear, I grab a drink of water and get myself bundled up for my morning walk with our dog, Duke. I’ve learned to grin and bear it through this miserable arctic-like winter, not enjoying much of it at all.
The sidewalks still had too many patches of ice and the dirty roads felt slippery in spots, but that’s where I chose to walk — the lesser of two evils. Carefully looking around, my eyes scanned for ice so I wouldn’t fall on my back while Duke walked his hasty black-lab morning walk. So much nasty garbage laid on the side of the road — a product of a few terribly windy days during the recent ice storm — now visible through the filthy brown and gravel-filled melting snow and ice. An ugly sight everywhere.
Then I heard birds singing. I stopped. I heard them again. Yes, it was a January morning, and not many birds are usually heard these mornings, but they knew what I did: it was above freezing.
I felt something unexpected inside. It was a sort of hope, I think. A feeling of expecting something good even before your mind tells you what is about to happen. Past experience says, “What you’re experiencing now means something really awesome is on it’s way.”
In my winter scenario, that sort of hopeful feeling wells up inside when everything around me points to the fact that winter is turning into spring: the calendar says so, and so does the really ugly melting brownish-black once-beautiful-snow on the side of the road. If you don’t live where you get a real winter, then you don’t know this: winter gets ugliest just before it ends. The beauty of spring comes after the ugliest time of the coldest season.
I was almost fooled into thinking we were on the precipice of spring on that walk the other day. A butterfly-feeling in my tummy gave a little nudge of hope even though my head knows differently in late-January. Spring certainly is coming — winter doesn’t go on forever (oh joy!) — but it will be a while yet. The seasons change as God instructs … not as I wish they would change.
What a great reminder to listen to my heart and spirit. When the most challenging season is still in full swing and common sense reminds me there is still a lot of ugly on the side of the road … I need to use all of my senses. I’ll choose to remind myself of God’s timeless truths and allow them to bring hope!
But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self) therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him” (Lamentations 3:21-24, Amplified Bible).
Spring will come to my cold season. And to yours. We all have them, whether we live geographically in a land of winter, or not. God promises. It may get uglier before the beauty appears, but we have Hope that can bring an expectant flutter deep inside, today.