This stillness after Christmas and lull before Lent is my least favorite time of the year. Sometimes there is snow, but usually there is just biting wind, brown earth, and icy roads. I usually huff and eye roll my way through these months, complain loudly, and suggest warmer climates to my husband often. I can't wait for the next season, and wonder how I can make the current one I'm in slip by more quickly.
Just after New Year's the book club I belong to met to wrap up discussion of Gift from the Sea By Anne Morrow Lindberg. After contemplating life through the lens of a few sea shells, she concludes, "Each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid." I groaned after reading her simple truth. Winter and I were going to need to become friends.
It wasn't too long after finishing her book, and with her words still fresh in my mind, we had a few unusually warm days for January. A warm breeze and bright sun melted the snow. While the kids played outside, I flung open windows to air out the house before joining them. After picking up debris and garbage the wind storms had blown into the yard, I sipped on a hot cup of coffee and checked on my flower beds. Everything seemed in order, that is dead, and dry, except in one place just under the kitchen window where I had buried tulips. The dog had found the soft dirt and dug a little, unearthing one little bulb that had already cracked open with a bright green shoot. I quickly reburied it, and hoped for the best.
Reburying the bulb, scooping cold earth over the top of its green sprout sparked my imagination a bit. If the bulb could think, what must it think of me, closing soil and darkness over it on such a beautiful day? What possible good could come from this? And how often do I, because of the season I am in, a season of waiting, do I doubt God's goodness and care over my own life, and feel suffocated, forgotten?
And yet, it is here that fortification, strength, and rest are all working together to prepare the trees and flowers for the next faze of life. In the quiet of winter, there is deep drawing from inward strength. This is the season when all you learned in the light and warmth and overabundance of goodness is needed for survival. And in this season, God is present. When all may look dry and barren, there is work being done in the hidden places, beneath the surface. In the quiet and stillness, faithfulness is being sown, and roots are being established. In the waiting and longing for spring, patience is developing. Every season is valid.
How often in the scriptures, are men and women told to wait, when haste would seem more effective? There is purpose and a plan in the stillness. And when we surrender, palms up, to the waiting, often times we find an answer too. Lindberg again writes, "The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasure shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea."
For now, I'm going to be intentional about remembering that God is not stingy with His kindness and grace in winter time. I want to be on the lookout for the treasures He will surely tuck into each day. They will not need to be dug for, but can be expected, and remember, "Patience, patience, patience", spring is coming.