Winter’s Gift

By Marcy Barthelette

I said, Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Psalm 55:6 

The view from my recliner allows a window to the outside world and the past couple of weeks have witnessed major change. Drying leaves drift softly to the earth or on an especially windy day they quickly fall like giant raindrops at the height of a storm, their brilliant colors dimming with age. We, along with our neighbors, are busy on nicer days completing our fall clean-up tasks while kids chase each other about, shouting excitedly, enjoying those final warm breezes as autumn firmly takes possession of the Ozarks. Seemingly, before we breathe another breath, snow will be falling, winter will tighten its grip. Animals will stow themselves away and we’ll begin to burrow in just like those animal friends.

Winter … yes, it’s a time of cold temperatures, many gray days, sometimes accompanied by snow and ice. And, as much as I often dread it, God gifted us with winter as a time of renewal. Everything needs rest. The towering trees that shade our hot summer days need time to spread their roots and soak up nutrients before new leaves begin to sprout. Flowers, too, have delighted our senses with brilliant colors and fragrant scents. Now, they need to rest before they show off their beauty throughout another season. And animals who have mated and raised young throughout the summer or others who will bear their next generation in the comfort of a cozy den will use this time for rest and renewal. Nature’s creations instinctively know why God created winter. We, humans, are less inclined to accept the gift. In 

our busyness, we often overlook the opportunity our minds and bodies yearn for.

Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.

Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild: Trusting in the Character of God.

I think, perhaps, that in today’s world, our minds and hearts need rest even more than our bodies. Forces apart from our God have taken our focus off Him and tempted us to follow paths that lead to our own destruction. Taking time away from all the distractions, spending more of our lives engaging in family activities, and immersing ourselves in the beauty of God’s creations often does more for our souls than sleep. It reminds us of what truly matters. The simple moments in our lives are often the most meaningful. The quiet times spent in conversation with our Father determine who we are.

Sometimes I view this gift of winter in the same vein as the infamous ugly sweater of Christmas. I don’t want it, but I don’t want to hurt the giver with unkind words or facial expressions. So, just as I try on that sweater and offer a heartfelt thank you to the giver, I quietly accept the colder days of winter as being inevitable, and once I do, I begin to savor the new memories that come with family holiday celebrations, our annual journey to a cabin in the woods with a dear friend, watching the antics of our feathered friends at the backyard feeders and squirrels racing frantically throughout the yard trying to locate the nuts they had “planted” earlier.

He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Mark 6:31

So, once the leaves are raked and the garden put to rest, take time to lounge by the fire with a new book or an old favorite. Break out the board games and perhaps a puzzle or two or more. Gather the family around the table for a rousing good time complete with favorite snacks. Turn off the worries of the world, silence your devices and just dive into family fun time.

And when the snow falls, wrap yourself in a warm, cozy throw, curl up beside a frosty window and immerse yourself in the silent beauty of a winter day. But don’t get too comfy, the kids will be ready to race out the door to build a friendly snowman even before it stops. They’ll be sure to toss a few snowballs or glide down a slippery hillside. And while these snowy pleasures may tire the body, they bring rest to a weary mind and good cheer to the heart. We all need spaces of time to disconnect from the world and be children again. Of course, a good nap on a cold, snowy day, can certainly do wonders for tired old bones. And of course, the best part of winter’s rest is contemplating the arrival of spring over a great cup of hot chocolate topped with a mountain of whipped cream.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Leave a Reply