Waiting for the Thaw: A Reflection on Winter

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Winter BeautyI feel as if I’m losing my marbles (if I had any to begin with), even as I type this.  Everyone in our household – including the dog, Lily – has the worst case of cabin fever I’ve ever seen before.  Lily will spontaneously burst into a frenzied whirling dervish that makes its way throughout the house like a midsummer tornado.  It’s humorous, actually, but that’s about the only thing that has been humorous about this winter, at least in the Ewing home.  Being cooped up with nowhere to go has an unsettling effect, even on me and our older daughter, Felicity – and we are the uber-introverts who actually prefer sedentary activities, such as reading, writing, coloring, talking to oneself, etc.  You get the idea.

This winter has been, in more ways than one, a real headache due to the domino effect of one snowstorm after an ice storm after a subzero spell.  I have spent more time indoors this winter than I can remember spending in the past five winters combined.  This has left me with the typical stir-crazy feeling that is a direct consequence of forced indoor confinement for weeks on end, but I have to admit that there is a little mystery in being forced to sit still.  I imagine that it’s God’s way of telling us to stop, slow down, take a breather, listen, reflect, ponder, pray, rest.  In fact, that is what winter seems to shout in all its glory and splendor if we take the time to notice its beauty instead of griping about our fingers freezing and scraping off the ice from our vehicles or shoveling snow in the driveway.

When I was a child, I loved winter because of all the snow days we enjoyed; during time off of school, my brother and I would gather a small group of friends and our sleds for an afternoon at Shoaff Park, with its graceful hills that were perfect for sliding and sledding.  As a young adult, I began to approach the sleepy season with caution and even apprehension, because I was driving and, therefore, responsible for getting to and from both work and college classes.  Driving on ice, I learned quickly, was no joke, so my perspective on winter changed from its childish enjoyment to one of skittish discretion.

Now I am a stay-at-home mom to children not yet of elementary school age.  So winter is different for me than it is for many moms who nervously follow the daily weather forecasts in search of delays or closings.  Often, I have no clue what the weather is going to do this day or the next, and it isn’t until I put on my snow boots and scrape the ice off of the windshield that I even begin to wonder, “What are the roads like out there?”  In a way, I really am ambivalent about this weather, seemingly to me because I don’t have to drive in it unless I really want to or there is an absolute emergency.  When I hear about the possibility of kids being in school until mid-June or slowed and stopped traffic for miles and even the fatal twenty-car pileup near Chicago, I always breathe a silent sigh of relief that our family is safe and sound – together – and can wait for the thaw until the winter gently transitions into spring.

This year, I have noticed that even in my restlessness, God seems to be loudly showcasing His glory through the winter storms and in the stillness of softly falling snow.  Winter is somehow majestic in its quiet, simple beauty.  It is a time when all of nature sleeps, a time when God speaks to us through His creation.  For the first time in years, I have somehow been given the ability to view my least-favorite season through a new lens.  Around Day 10 of the consecutive days I was stuck inside due to the weather, I peered outside just as the sun was rising, and I saw winter’s beauty.  I was reminded of the intricacy and unique makeup of each snowflake as they gracefully fluttered to the ground.  I noticed how the ice perfectly coated every detail of the branches on our trees to form a crystal lattice pattern.  It almost appeared to be a whimsical wonderland, straight out of a Disney fairy tale, and I found myself thanking God for all of the seasons and the gift each is to our lives.

This winter has been God’s gift of rest for many of us, a time for us to mimic what all of creation does this time each year – sleep, hibernate, repose.  Though all appears to be dead on the surface, we know that much life is happening under the ground to prepare for spring’s first cherry blossom, daffodil, and tulip.  I have come to believe that, if we didn’t have a season like this to force us to slow down, most of us wouldn’t cease our frenetic pace of living, would we?  I have a hunch that I, like most people, would continue to busy myself each day with the necessities of homemaking and caregiving, and yet God has revealed so much more in this paradoxical gift of icy roads and snow squalls.  He is whispering to us, Stay inside.  Sip a cup of tea slowly.  Watch the snow fall with your family by the fireside.  Play a game with them.  Read.  Pray.  Take a nap. Don’t rush off so soon; stay a while longer to chat with your friends.  Wait until the roads are clearer.  Wait for the thaw.  These are simple treasures we often take for granted and bypass completely due to the frenzy that sweeps us away time and time again.

So I am thanking God for this winter, though it is still somewhat irritating to be continually snowed in after weeks of this meteorological pattern.  Even in my languishing discomfort and restless nature, even though I am most comfortable when I am constantly doing something and always active, my heart reminds me of the importance of Sabbath resting – the kind in which the entire mind, body and soul is in a state of inertia for a time so as to revive itself with renewed strength, energy, and hope.  Thanks be to God, yes even for the winter months.

What is your favorite season?  What do you like best about winter?

Copyright 2014 Jeannie Ewing

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About Author

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph and Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and a dozen other podcasts and radio shows. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief and parenting children with special needs. For more information on her professional services, visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

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