When You’re Weary of Winter
Doesn’t January feel like the longest month of the year? It’s still cold and dark, but without the promise of a holiday to look forward to. It seems as though it will never end. The first month of the year is supposed to offer a fresh new start, but mostly it feels like returning to the same old routines, the same old life as last year. “New year, new me” feels more like a weary trudge along a well-worn path.
There is no fresh snowfall in this part of the world to cast an enchanted, magical beauty over the scene. Only grey skies overhead and dull, damp paths underfoot. The occasional ray of sunshine that pierces the clouds seems feeble and distant, as though its light has been diluted into a drab imitation of itself. Dreary hues feel like an appropriate accompaniment for the chill that penetrates your bones, no matter how many layers you wear. “Always winter and never Christmas,” as they say in Narnia.
In this season, it feels like nothing is growing. There are no visible signs of life, resources seem scarce and everything appears to be dead. It’s no wonder that animals go into hibernation in winter. I wish I could, too.
But under the surface, essential work is happening. Trees are replenishing their nutrients from deep below the ground. Seeds are bedding down, establishing their roots, spending their necessary time in the dark. Animals are resting in preparation for the coming of spring. The old is being cleared away, ready for new life to emerge.
The seasons mirror what happens in our own souls, too. In winter, we feel like nothing is productive. There seem to be no visible signs that we’re on the right path, or that anything good is going to happen. Everything feels a bit dark and hopeless. Just putting one foot in front of the other takes all the energy we can muster.
Maybe we can learn the best response to our own winter seasons from the natural environment. Maybe it’s okay to have seasons that aren’t productive. Sometimes we need to let things lie fallow, let the old things die away before we can make space for the new. Perhaps in this season what we most need is rest and replenishment. In winter, we reach for hearty and warming food to fill our stomachs, and maybe we can reach for something nourishing and wholesome to fill our souls, too.
Winter is also a good time to notice the smallest gifts that come our way. That one ray of sunshine, the patterns the ice makes on your windshield, your favourite cosy socks, the friend who sticks around when everything feels hard.
In choosing gratitude, we send out little shoots into the soil, rooting ourselves into the goodness of God, though we are still in the dark. We are reminding ourselves that, even in January, God’s mercies are still new every morning.