As the snow falls softly on the house-crested wilderness, I gaze into the mountains. There, amid the glowering fog, stand a thousand layers of dark pines, fading into the haze. Nearby, an elk bugles.
For some reason, I fail to take a walk.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Winter is on the horizon. This season has a strange power unlike any other; its chilled breezes tend to flow into my mind and heart before it is felt or seen physically. For me, winter is as much a season of the soul as it is a tide of change in nature, and it rises within the breast before it creeps upon the face of the earth.
I suppose this may be unique to me (though it may not). As a teen I was bound far less to my rationale than to my heart. Moving with my family into a wide, open landscape in rural Idaho expanded winter into a vast and endless vista, and had a deep impact on my inner emotional landscape; the experience occurred parallel to losing hope in befriending and loving a girl who had become important to me over the course of the most recent months. To a young, bereaved romantic, it was a winter of the soul, and the snowy, windswept Idaho countryside was an illustration of the emptiness I refused to escape.
This period was not without its warmth. In the frozen brooks and rills of rural Idaho, a quiet peace pervaded. A reverence would fall over my mind; among the towering skeletons of trees, as I was standing on a frozen pond next to a copse-crowned islet, I was in the temple of God. The permanent whisper of the valley wind was like a still small voice, simultaneously encouraging peace and urgency. Such whispers still echo within me when I reflect on those winters.
As the years have passed, the true Spirit of God has wrought wonders in the various winters of my life. Through the tribulations of mortality, I have found that the darkest of nights and the coldest of days become temples of God when we open our hearts to the Healer of Souls and let him dwell there and do His work within us. As a teen, the Idaho winter became a friend to which I could relate, a hostile landscape in which God's hand could be seen, felt, even held. Now, though I am yet inexperienced and have decades of winters to tread through, I view winters as a symbol of Christian suffering and saintly ecstasy. At what time in the year is a fire valued more than in winter? When, in the course of human experience, does a blanket, a house, or a housemate become so evidently necessary, and therefore, so evidently Heaven-sent, than in the months of winter?
So it is that the suffering of mortality becomes the darkness in the which Light, which emanates from Christ, stands out in stark contrast against all of our opposition. Christ is the master of such seasons, and we can expect each season to come in its due course "while the earth remaineth." May we ever turn to Him in "seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night [which] shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22)