Et Quietum Locus: Winter
Until yesterday I’ve never really thought about life having seasons. Sure, I might refer to a “season” of life yet I had never reflected on this allegory. What would spring, summer, fall, and winter look like as my life moved through them? Winter days, with their short duration and cold, soggy patterns drive you into the house curled up with hot tea and a good book. Birds flee south and the trees stand like skeletons in a grey sky.
Winter has never been my favorite season. Autumn has always been the best. The days are fresh and pleasant. The north breeze descends and the aches and pains from the high pressure summer disappear. I’ve always been convinced that an autumn breeze could cleanse the soul. The trees and I heave a sigh and the leaves fall in torrents as the gusts pour through. Although it began with such fanfare the freshness of the season ends abruptly.
Overnight the birds have scattered and the songs have ended. The trees are bare. The north winds have arrived and with it the chill that makes your bones ache. The icy cold has arrived and laid the place bare, stagnant, and unbearably quiet.
Here in winter the greatest tragedies of your life have unfolded. Friends distance themselves, a loved one dies, you withdraw, and the reflection you see in the silvery cold puddle on the ground reveals to you a person that you don’t like or understand. The puddle ripples as the tears splash down. There isn’t much that can be said; who could bear the grief of the words you have to say? Who can understand the back story of your life and understand the why of who you are? Who will accept you like this… broken. The wounds are deep and the flow is hard to staunch and no one can stop it but HIM.
What possible benefit could winter be? A time of rest… The painful reshaping, a retreat from the noise that drowns out His voice. A time when the hours you rest are supposed to be longer than the hours you work. It’s a black and white look at your soul. It is a time when you realize that “ideals” and busy-ness were never the point of life. That better “a little” with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. “A little…” The basics. God. Family. It is enough. You slowly open your hand and offer up the things clutched so tightly in your hand.
Heaving a sigh, you go to the stove and put on the kettle of water… it’s the little things. The whistle of the pot, the warmth of the drink, and the open bible on the table. He comes into this quiet place and he whispers words of healing and wonder. The grief transforms. Here, knee deep in winter, I have been surprised by joy. Inner peace has descended like freshly fallen snow. Inside His grace I’m content wrapped up in this blanket of the solitude of His presence. This frozen moment of sweet, sorrowful, quiet worship. This. quiet. place.