Winter arrives and seems to overstay it's welcome most years, too cold for the things that many find enjoyable. Yet, when your eyes are tuned to God's high definition channel, winter brings opportunity and serenity that goes widely unnoticed during other seasons. Spring with it's cleaning, organizing, planting, and new beginnings. Summer with it's outside activity, parks, pools and travel. Autumn with it's crisp reminder that warm days will soon be gone, bonfires, bike rides and watching the leaves change color. But winter, it gives way to quiet time, reflection and prayer, days spent inside, huddled up close with loved ones sharing a blanket, tea, good books, music, hugs, crackling fires. For people like myself that get lost in the velocity of every day life, winter is the final present waiting to be unwrapped and noticed amid all of the sparkly ones. It is unpretentious and reserved, yet it commands the use of our imagination and master seeking skills to uncover the hidden treasures.
I love the stillness of the morning after the plows have left our cul-de-sac street cleared for the hard working rebounders; serene and nonviolent in my corner of the world. Sometimes there are birds or squirrels meandering about, but mostly there is just me and the vastness of white. I have taken to staring out the back doors, noting the plants that stay strong beneath the heavy drifts of snow, or the ones who slowly succumb to the frigid elements and rest easy until spring's rebirth calls it from it's wintry grave.
These are things I once took for granted, too bitter at the bitterness of winter to admire all it's beauty and grace. This year, the year of gratitude, I welcome the snow, the two-hour delays which allow the mornings to idle instead of hastening us to the bus stop. I like the way my 5-year old finds comfort in the warmth of my arms on the couch and he is content to listen to me read his big brother's chapter books or school me in Super Mario on the Wii.
Winter through a child's eyes will transform the heart. Their small bodies, recirculating heat quickly and efficiently so they can stay face down in the snow for long periods of time, admiring who knows what in the depths of that chilled snow drift and the millions of snow games they can come up with: heart reform. The way the act of throwing powder up into the air so that it clings to their eyelashes and tickles their noses makes them laugh hysterically while I shiver with the camera: a course in deliverance.
I'm surprised to find myself, a loather of cold, so changed by a few days spent outside with my camera surrounded by the magnanimous energy of my children. It may be because I know this season, just like all the others, is fleeting and my attitude about it will shape what direction it takes. It may be because for once in my life I am not afraid of being by myself, and I in fact welcome it as much as I welcome the return of my boys as they walk through the door after school. It may be because for some reason, perhaps with better nutrition, I have not been pulled under by the deep, heavy blanket of seasonal depression and for that I am grateful.
“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 Caroll
Stay warm and safe till spring's renewal, friends.