Updated: Jan 30, 2020
I used to really hate winter. I hated being cold, I hated the lack of freedom I felt from having to be bundled up, I missed being barefooted, I thought the dull and barren landscape was ugly, I hated all the gray days, and the list could go on.
However, over the last several years, I've begun to gain a new perspective on winter. I had a friend who also loved the outdoors tell me that all seasons have their beauty and that we should never hate a season but look for what is special about it. That really made me think about my attitude. Then, in reading articles by naturalists, I was introduced to the idea of using winter to really study and learn about nature and animals that I could then explore in the warmer seasons. In my gardening reading, I saw that many gardeners enjoy winter for looking at seed catalogs and planning their gardens. After moving to the mountains, I realized two things about the scenery in winter. First of all, the dull colors are actually soft and full of beautiful grays and creams. Second, on a hike, you can see amazing vistas way farther across all the valleys because leaves aren't in the way. I still don't like being cold, but on nicer days, I enjoy a winter hike and on the really cold days, I look forward to cozy times inside with my husband. We enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles, reading, watching sports and other projects that we don't do when it's easier to get outside. It can be a wonderful time to slow down and reflect on things we might not take the time to think about in busier seasons.
Last year, my heart was opened to another aspect of winter after hearing a beautiful song by Jonathon David and Melissa Helser called "Sing Winter." It speaks about the covering of snow and the renewal it brings. Winter brings quietness and time for reflection. If we don't pause our busyness and reflect on our inner selves, we won't grow, we'll just keep spinning and live in stress. Winter brings a clean covering like Jesus does in our lives. It allows for the old things to die away, be covered with white, and then as the snow melts away, new growth springs forth. During winter, it's a good time to reflect on what needs to be "put to death" in me - certain attitudes, fear, hopelessness - and focus on renewing my spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit. Every year, we have this visual to help us remember this. Every season is a visual and experiential example of seasons in life, and I want to experience each one as fully as I can. If I resent a season, I'm missing out on that.
I think you'd like to listen to the song that spoke to me so I included a link at the end of this post. I am still working to gain better perspective on this but I find it hopeful to have a reason to delight in winter instead of dread it. I've learned of another tool for help with this: the ministry of the Helsers, Cageless Birds, published a book in their "Cultivate" series that you work through called The Clarity Winter Brings, and "is designed to help us find the beauty in winter seasons of life [and] to champion the significance of our roots growing deep into His heart, and our branches resting from producing fruit." I got so much out of their volume on creativity that I'm looking forward to ordering this one and thoughtfully going through it during my quiet times with God.
The painting above called "Over the River..." is a winter scene from our wild, wonderful West Virginia that depicts what I was beginning to realize as a lovely season with softness and deep contrasts. I painted it after a winter's day drive out to a beautiful little ghost town in the New River Gorge called Thurmond. This is what I saw as we crossed the single-lane bridge into the town. I loved the reflection the dark shadow on the softly hued mountain created in the beautiful blue choppy water. As you view it, I hope you'll allow yourself time for winter stillness and reflection.
Song "Sing Winter" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UtjmFyaLXw
Cageless Birds Cultivate Books: https://www.cagelessbirds.com/cultivate