The beauty of winter: touched by God, warmed by God

By Laurel Pattenden

I think that God loves us very much and because of that love God gave us winter! Absolutely!

Let’s face it, most of us would gladly give winter up. Most of us prefer the other three seasons. Except perhaps Vivaldi who needed the fourth season to complete his musical composition.

What exactly does winter give us? There are so many cold days that it is hard to feel the love.

The season of winter carries its own beauty whether we live in an area of brown grasses and leafless trees. Or maybe you live in those areas of the Huron diocese that has snow on snow on snow on snow, along with lots of barren trees? Whichever type of weather you experience, the winter deciduous trees are standing in their bare honesty in front of us.

We sometimes don’t look as closely to the barren trees as much as we do during the bloom of spring and glow of autumn. They don’t dazzle us. Long gone are the leaves that dress them up and hide their gnarly branches. They stand looking vulnerable to the weather and wildlife around them. The wind causing their branches to crack and moan. Winter is when we can truly see their character as they poise before a sunset. Standing singularly amongst the other trees we see the authenticity of each.

This is how the winter trees stand before the Creator. Barren. Stripped. But beautiful.

The winter trees have many lessons for us as we see them through our windows. These trees show us that it is okay to let vulnerability into our lives. It is only through the acceptance of our own vulnerability that we can meet others in their own times of vulnerability. The trees teach us to be like Henri Nouwen’s “Wounded Healer”. The leafless trees are so much more open to others.

The crooked branches and scarred trunks also show their inner authenticity. Not dressed up or hiding behind leaves, but allowing their truth to stand alone. How many of us hide behind our egos and the strong desire to belong that we are no longer authentic to ourselves?

God wants us to be our authentic selves. God wants us to come out from behind our ruthless egos. To stop our hiding from feelings of inadequacy.

The winter trees teach us to be vulnerable and authentic because this is how the Creator sees us. Barren. Stripped. But beautiful.

There is one more lesson we can learn from the winter trees. When the warmth of the January sun touches them, the sweetness of their sap begins to flow. They have to be barren for the sun to warm them for this to happen. They have to be naked before the sun for the best syrup. Like us. We need to be naked before God. Touched by God.

Warmed by God. If not, like the tree’s syrup, our spirit will not begin to flow.

This winter let us seek warmth from God and feel our spirits flow and become sweet.

Featured photo: Aaron Burden, Unsplash