Here we are. It’s January again which marks the beginning of the real winter here in Maine. We’ve had several heavy snowfalls which painted the trees, shrubs, and lawns that Christmas white reminding us of peace, love, and goodwill. Now, I love Christmas because it does give us a few moments of reflection on our lives and provides that pause in our busy schedules that for some is the only pause of the year.
I live in New England where we are fortunate to have four beautiful seasons. Each has its flavor and each has its associated character. Take Summer for instance. Summer here is ‘tourist season’. It’s that time of year when my small coastal town gets inundated with people ‘from away’. Most are here for the food like Lobster, clams, and other seafood delights but some are here to go back over memories of days past when as children they were brought to the beach not far away from my home to play and enjoy the sand and sun.
But, however, there is another side of winter that most fail to see. That is, the beauty of the snow upon trees shortly after a snowfall. The contrast between what was a few days ago and what is now becomes stark and real. We hunker down for a long cold and snowy time after all the glow and glitter of the Holiday Season fades from view and the reds, greens, and gold of celebration become boxed and forgotten for another year.
That is the part that makes me pause and consider the next couple of months. Winter arrises from the celebration of Christ’s birth with all its attendant hoopla and events. We dress our homes in beautiful lights of every color and look at each other through the filtered lens of peace of earth and good will to man. This year all the good will we collected was shattered by wars of all sizes and by a stock market that left many dizzy with distrust and a feeling of betrayal. Instead of feeling love we felt fear. Instead of seeing love I see despair and the destruction of hope in the future and in governmental institutions. Instead of peace I witness ancient embedded fears and distrust boil over into hostility of unprecedented volume. Whatever happened to peace, love, joy, and what was that other one. Hmmm......... the forth symbol of Advent becomes lost amid the return to ‘life as usual’.
We go from season to season, week to week, day to day in our own rhythmic cycle always looking forward worrying about paying bills and making a living. All that worry becomes the blockage from which sorrow and despair grow. We come from the glitz and glitter of commercialized Christmas into the contrast of white snow against black/brown roads and streets. No wonder love is lost, peace is forgotten, joy is underwhelming, and you know that other one, hope, become the lost civilization in which we live. Ah, for the good ole days.
My spelling may be bad at times and my grammar poor but even I can see beneath the snow and know how much hidden work is being accomplished waiting for the snow to go, mud season to end, and the signal that spring has begun and we can be lifted once again out of the doldrums of cold.
I’m one of those strange folk who believes that love, peace, joy, and hope live each day within my heart to be given freely to all I meet. The cold of winter can be warmed by the glow of a heart that thrives from loving others and giving to them the fruits of an unending source of energy and love. January is not the bleak cold miserable month that precedes February but is the beginning of a new year. It is the re-winding of the clock of time once again giving us the chance to look at life freshly like new fallen snow without the blemishes of old, the pain of disbelief, and the sorrow of what could have been. January is a time when we get to begin again if we have fallen, look for the hidden wonder beneath the beauty of snow, and once again have the privilege to be alive in the greatest land known. Where else can you openly say “In God We Trust” and know, really know, how true those words are.
The next time you see snow or feel the cold winds of winter remember what awaits you once the cold has done its job of giving rest to a weary world and prepares us for a time of rebirth, a cleansing of the past, and we see the sunrise of spring just over the horizon bringing new life to every one and every thing on earth.