For years my pat response to questions about our seasonal New England weather is to say that I like winter…until I don’t.
Maybe I’m weird, but I like the cold weather, the dim overcast skies, and even the early dark! (My favorite temperature this time of year is 25 degrees!) I think of those old European paintings of a simple thatched-roof cottage set at night in a snowy forest, with smoke drifting out of its chimney, and a yellowish glow emanating from its windows. It speaks of hearth and home, of the warm and cozy, of inner light.
It stands in studied contrast to the bleached out, burned out days of summer, of the blazing sun’s sheer relentlessness and unyielding tenacity. Winter, instead, bequeaths clouds both moody and complex, along with the contemplative interplay of a wan sky and the hushed earth, yielding a multiplicity of shades, both light and dark.
It is a time to consider, to step back for but a moment to assess our otherwise distracted lives, to let God intercede for us while our defenses are momentarily down. It is a time to connect with what is most basic, God, family, and, not to put too fine a point on it, what is most meaningful in life, to question why we are even here, and what our true purpose might be.
This, along with the greater than normal expectations of the Christmas/Epiphany season – of togetherness, happiness, and wholeness – can make it a difficult time. For when we step back to actively listen to our lives, and if they are found wanting in whatever way, our sense of isolation and distress can be greatly magnified.
Yet this season is premised on the sure belief that the light of God has come into our darkened world, ready to transform it, and us, in ways that reflect God’s heavenly glory. And the darkness, we are assured, shall not overcome it. In this is renewal, and hope, born of the simple promise of God’s steadfast, unending love. Even the soon-to-be burst of springtime colors, sights, and sounds is implicit in this improbable time. And our consolation is to be found therein.
Grace and peace,
Thomas C. Leinbach, Pastor