While Canadian winters are known for their shortened days and darkness, what I love the most about a crisp winter’s day is the quality of the sun’s light when it does deign to shine. There is a blue, piercing quality to the light of winter that doesn’t exist at any other time of the year. It is a purer, truer light that shines on a sunny December morning.
In the same way, winter’s truth is a truth without distraction. The frills and fluff of the leaves and plants have been taken out of the way to reveal a bare bones reality that doesn’t allow for haziness, laziness, or excuses. The glare of the winter’s sun might seem harsh and blinding, but it can reveal things that would otherwise go unnoticed in the shadows. A shocking red cardinal at the bird feeder. The dust floating in a sunbeam that reminds me a good spring cleaning is long overdue. The truths that are revealed in the strong light of winter are both a reminder of the good and a caveat against the bad.
I remember a particular winter’s morning. After a prolonged sunless period of grey and dreary days, I awoke to a sparkling blanket of snow on the ground, and to trees laden with brilliance. I thought about the weight that those trees had to bear at that moment, and how burdensome it must be for them to bear the weight of all that splendour. Yet it was their heavy burden, at that particular moment, that was making those trees breathtakingly beautiful.
And strong. Those trees were not just made beautiful by their burden of glistening snow. I can imagine that they were also being made stronger, as perhaps they had been strengthened by the snows of previous winters. For us humans, weight bearing exercise doesn’t just increase muscle strength, it also increases bone density and bone strength. Strength plus endurance: a formidable combination.
God help me to see my burdens in the dazzling light of winter, not as weights that hold me down and oppress me, but as glories that make me strong and beautiful. As St. Paul says, our “slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18 NRSV)
Whatever your burdens and troubles might be at the moment, God cares about you. He wants to co-operate with you to turn them into strength and beauty.
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NRSV)
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