Winter seems so dead. Here in New Zealand, it is cold, bleak and grey. Its hard to get up in the morning because it is still dark, the trees are all dormant (dead), and everything just feels solemn. This was the cry of my 19 year old self. Years ago when I lived here, this is exactly what I thought. It is true of winter in many parts of the world. Add to everything a deep layer of snow and no doubt things seem too quiet. Too dead. Especially if you are a blue skies kinda person. Which I am.
Winter is a great analogy for life too. We all suffer through winters. Some, longer than others. Others, darker and colder and more solemn that some. Our winters sometimes seem like they will never come to an end, even when we sit and call out for the sun to shine. Spring and summer can feel like they are so far away they are completely out of reach.
My 36-year-old self has gained some wisdom over the past 16 years. I find myself out in winter more this time, my New Zealand experience 2.0…and I see things I never saw before. I feel things, I experience things that are very, very alive in the absolute heart of winter.
I feel the cold air, burning deep down into my lungs as I run. Where once I would have thought this was a miserable way to be, I now feel joy in how alive I am. I see trees. Lots of them. Where once I focussed on the dead twigs against the bleak and cloudy sky, now I am noticing the proud upright trees bearing astonishing colour, breaking through the status quo and daring to challenge winter out of its reverie. The stand-out colours of the Magnolia and Flowering Cherry are just a couple.
Whilst I am not an expert in the names of flowers or of trees, I can still appreciate the beauty they are displaying. One particular beautiful flower I found while out on a walk recently just blew me away with its daring. Not only was it standing up tall and strong, it also had a beautiful aroma to match.
While walking through the cemetery, I noticed a big tree full of colour. As I came closer I realised there was precious bunches of spectacular flowers with intricate detailing on the inside of the petals. I would have completely missed that if I didn’t take the time to stop and look a bit closer.
As I returned home from my morning walk, God spoke some beautiful truths into my heart from all I witnessed in nature today. I saw how differently my latest winter experience has been to those in the past, both physically and emotionally. I see the world in a different way, I look for the things to appreciate and I know how important nature is to my wellbeing.
There is a lesson in there for all of us winter sojourners. Are you sitting inside a season of winter right now? Do things seem too bleak, too dark, too cold? Instead of staying inside, insulating yourself from the elements, perhaps it might be worthwhile to explore winter a little deeper. You might be surprised at how much life and living are still happening all around you once you get out and look a little closer. Perhaps you might notice the details in a different light. Maybe you will find that tiny step of faith to move towards spring- even if you can’t see it yet. Immersing ourselves in nature is a wonderful way of finding a new perspective. Its one I need to experience all the time to reset my mind and focus on gratitude and humility. How about you?