Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I've been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia— “Seasons” by Hillsong Worship
I’ve always had a fondness for winter. Maybe it’s because I came from the hot and sunny city of Manila, and seeing snow for the first time since I was a toddler was such a treat at 11 years old. But it’s been over a decade now, and the novelty and awe for this season haven’t left me yet. Now, this isn’t to say I’m naive or ignorant about the very real health implications of this time of year. I’ve experienced firsthand how impactful the weather can be to a person’s health and wellbeing: I’ve fallen down the rabbithole of mental un-health longer than Alice was in Wonderland, and even studied the human brain and behaviour in university. But in spite of all that, or maybe even because of it, my love affair for winter stays strong.
The Sound of the Season
My favourite lyrical translation of this love is in that Hillsong Worship song above. And of course there’s Ecclesiastes 3:1-9.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Both of these pieces of poetry hold one key to a spiritual understanding of winter because they show how it reveals the depth of God. The Creator of the Universe made four seasons for good reason. Our God is an intentional Father, and even though we may not always feel it, He is just as present in the summers of our lives as He is in the winters. “For Your promise is loyal, from seed to sequoia.”
There’s a unique kind of grace that showers us when the colder climate begins. Everything freezes. Time feels slower and we find ourselves in this season of waiting. For many of us, waiting doesn’t come naturally, especially when that waiting happens in the wintertime.What a wonderful coincidence then that Advent occurs in winter - that we celebrate our Lord’s entry into our broken humanness during a season that can often be filled with darkness and sadness. Even Christmas carols sing this truth:
“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn.”
If we step outside of the land of Hallmark cards, twinkly Christmas lights, and intricate gift wrappings, we return to a very weary world that often doesn’t know how to rejoice --- or Who to rejoice in. We forget how to sit with silence or hold onto time. So we let time fly by and fill the silence with noise. We distract ourselves through mundanity, cruise through shopping sales, and count down the days until spring.
“Being” Over “Doing”
We social beings love “doing” things (if not productive, then at the very least, busying and time-consuming). But what if we’re called to something greater? What if instead of hitting autopilot in the wintertime, we respond to God’s call just to be present in it?That’s precisely what I learn and re-learn every time this season kicks in. I learn to “do” less and just “be” more. I learn to sit with silence and find Jesus in that place of peace – to find the Holy Spirit in the in-between moments of every day, and particularly in the winter, to spot Him in the snow. Like God’s love and mercy, snow is clean and pure, and when it falls on us we know it’s there. We feel it melt through us.
So how do we find God in the winter? You don’t need to look hard because He is everywhere.He is in the quiet winter mornings and gentle hums of the wind.He is in the cool snowflakes that kiss our cheeks when they trickle down for the first time.He is in the pristine snow banks after a night of heavy precipitation.He is the breath that leaves our mouths when it gets too cold. He is in you as much as He is in me.God is everywhere, all at once, and in between. I don’t intend to overly romanticize wintertime. I’m not telling you to ignore your emotions or quit complaining about the weather. I’m asking you to give all that you are, just as you are right now, to the Father. Entrust God with all your seasons. Remember that Jesus is in the suffering as much as He is in the rejoicing. He is in the summer as much as He is in the winter of our lives. He is in death as much as He is in the resurrection. Everything has a season, and in every season God is there.