The wind blew fiercely, stinging our faces as we raced into the van, slamming the doors shut to the elements outside. We couldn’t keep out the chill as our hands shook with shivers and our teeth chattered. A turn of the key and the car engine croaked to life, resisting the weather as much as our bodies.
These are the shortest days, the ones just before the winter solstice, when the sun doesn’t rise soon enough and sets too early, when only the sunniest of days offer warmth.
Confession: I do not pine for summer days when the weather turns cold.
I love being outside, but I will whine like it’s my job when the thermometer creeps into the 90s with high humidity. I find little relief in the summer unless I cocoon myself in an air-conditioned room and refuse to leave.
But the winter days, well, as much as I don’t want to go outside when the temperatures are in the teens and the “real feel” is single digits or below zero, I find myself almost looking forward to them. Sometimes.
Winter is often labeled as a bleak season, but I see some of the most beautiful scenes when snow covers the ground or the sun sets over a barren land. The contrast of brown tree branches against a blue sky stops me where I walk sometimes. Sometimes winter offers less distractions. Maybe there is less beauty than other seasons, but maybe that’s why it stands out more. No competition. (I’m watching Bob Ross on Netflix as I write. He’s painting winter scenes and they are anything but bleak or boring.)
Winter slows me down. I go less places. I take more care. I plan ahead to start the car before we leave. We add a few minutes to our departure time to bundle up. My body seems to move more slowly, as if it is preparing for hibernation. I won’t complain.
And winter pushes me toward people, toward shelter, toward home. When it’s cold and there’s a crowd, I tend to stand a little closer or pull my kids in close for snuggles or a huddle of semi-warmth while we wait for the bus. When I’m out in the freezing temperatures, I want nothing more than to be in. A longing for a warm and cozy place overwhelms me, almost to the point of tears.
I just want to be home, I lament, sometimes out loud.
And I can’t help but want everyone to be warm and home when it’s winter.
The frigid weather thaws my heart.
And leads me home.
This is what I need to remember not only when the weather outside turns but when life takes a figurative cold turn. It’s not all warm fuzzies these days as far as life goes, and I have to remember that the stinging winds and biting cold of circumstances can push me toward people, toward shelter, toward home. I read a passage today in an Advent book about God being my dwelling place, and He is. Except when I think I can survive on my own. But when I’m chilled by the world around me, I want nothing more than the security of home. I want the comfort of people, the togetherness of humanity.
It’s here and I can’t change that and while I want the freedom to be outside and active and not have to bundle up, this season, it’s necessary in so many ways.
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