December 2017

Winter Keeps Us Honest

This is not going to be one of those warm fuzzy articles that will tell you to embrace Winter.  My wife is from the South and over the years, she has convinced me that most of what we say about Winter is just so much whistling in the dark.

Sure, there is a sort of spartan pleasure to be found in a dark and cold frosty morning, the air is fresh and clean and pure.  But it helps to know that your car has a new battery and is snug and warm in the garage.  The older I get, the more I am convinced that Winter, like the polar bears at the zoo, is best observed from the warm side of the windows.

The best image of winter for me is the big wood pile stacked under the deck by my back door.  There was a time when I used to cut it myself.  That way it “warms you twice” the old timers used to say.  Now it appears like grace.  A generous gift that warms the heart as well as the body.  I still enjoy outdoor sports, but the best part of winter is a crackling fire, a pot of soup or chili, and the company of family and friends.

The Church has long recognized that Winter is a season for awe and wonder.  Hope and belief are easy in June when the world is a garden and the wind is warm.  But when the bitter North winds blow, and the sun rides low in the Southern sky, darkness and emptiness don’t seem far away.

Winter keeps us honest.  It holds us to our faith commitment.  Its stark realities compel us to replenish the wood piles of our inner lives.  It is not by accident that the Church offers its richest feasts and celebrations at the beginning and the end of this season.

Christmas, everyone’s favorite event, comes on the darkest day of the year.  We celebrate the “Light of the World” when everything around us is at its darkest.  Easter follows the winter observation of Lent, after which the world is alive with the new life of Spring.  A warm fire and a nourishing pot of soup would be meaningless without Winter’s cold deprivations.  And the joy of Easter is brighter set against the somber note of Lent.

Life would be easier without Winter, more of a lark.  But without some kind of winter, our lives would need to find another way to connect with the device in the world.  We would be less whole.


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