May 26, 2015 #4
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV) “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:…”
Been thinking a lot about winter lately. Not the cold and blustery winters of Maryland, but the cold and blustery winters of the soul. I mean those times when our insides are so churning that we can’t find any warmth or solace, and our outside circumstances seem too adrift in hazardous blizzard conditions for us to seem to be able to rest. It never occurred to me until recently that maybe, just maybe those times are needed for growth and life to occur, in a similar way to Winter being needed for the world of nature to be able to produce the amazing beauty of Spring. Within the realms of nature, Winter allows everything to have a greater rest and to also prepare for the coming season of growth. It allows for the plants to conserve and harness their energy and focus on internal growth of the plant rather than growth of leaves and flowers. Flower bulbs are hardened by the subfreezing temperatures, so that when Spring comes and everything begins to warm up, they are able to bloom and produce flowers. Cherry Trees need the cold of winter to prepare the buds to bloom in Spring. Trees that shed their leaves in the fall do so in order to conserve the nutrients normally used to maintain the leaves for the tree itself, preparing the tree for the new leaves and growth that will occur in the Spring. Sap, the nourishment of the tree, is replenished in the winter as the roots of the tree pull up water from the frozen ground. In Spring, the sap begins to flow when the weather begins to warm, nourishing the tree for it’s Spring growth, and in the case of the Maple Trees, giving us wonderful, sweet syrup. Rest isn’t the only function of Winter, but the work going on is more internal – preservative and restorative in nature.
Before modern technology and city life, which has allowed for people to be able to sidestep the ebb and flow of seasons and live pretty much the same through all the year, there was a time when most families lived off the land and geared their activities around the seasons. Winter for them was a time of greater rest and a different type of work. Winter was when families had more rest from the back breaking labor of tilling and harvesting the ground so that they could invest in the things needed to prepare for the coming season of back breaking labor. They mended their tools, sewed their clothing, quilted their blankets, mended and made furniture, and sat around the fireplace in the evening and told stories and sang songs as a family. Not really unlike what happens in the plant world in winter. Their work entailed necessary duties that could be accomplished indoors and around the fire at night after a shorter period of daylight.
I’ve been thinking a lot about all of this more lately because I’m just coming out of one of those wintery times myself and have been trying to make some sense out of the blustery emotions and circumstances. To be honest, that time didn’t really seem like ‘rest’ but rather a lot of hard work! But as I look back, it has turned out to be a time of a greater internal work – a time of getting things right inside. And now that this Winter is about over, I am seeing a Spring of sorts – a new life and growth that is refreshing and invigorating! Actually through a recent sermon and Bible Study, I’ve been challenged to see the winters of the soul differently than I have in the past. The circumstances that brought on my winter don’t really matter – we all have such times. But the lessons I’m learning do matter because the treasures they hold will hopefully help me get through future winters much more easily.
As I’ve thought of what I am gaining through having gone through that time, I am struck with several lessons that I am learning that will help me more successfully weather these times, and allow for a greater beauty when the Spring does finally come. On my next blog, I would like to share with you a biography of someone who has greatly influenced how I see those blustery times, and how his going through his winter has taught me many lessons that I hope to be able to treasure for a very long time…..
(Some of this information was obtained from http://www.abc.net.au/science articles/2014/06/11/4022947.htm – the Geek Gardener out of Australia; and http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/tgen/what-is-tree-sap.htm.)