ok, so I know that's not exactly new information, but there's something about the first couple of weeks of January that cause an unsettled feeling in me.
I love to be surrounded by things that are pretty, and as I've said many a time, I consider it my mission to create a home that is warm and inviting, comfortable and cozy.
In the Fall the gardens peak and then fade, but the glory of autumn colours come alive on the trees surrounding our home. As the last leaves are falling, it's time to pull out all things red and green, berries and pine. The house comes alive with colours of Christmas and the scents of cinnamon and baking! By January, I have packed away our decorations and usually what follows is a good clean and purge! (I just can't bare to have too much "stuff" around me.) Then...
it becomes painfully obvious....
I can think about my flower gardens and what I'd like to plant this year, and how I might try to keep it alive for the whole summer, but I can't do a thing about it. The snow fills my flower box, tops the deck, covers the trees.
This year in preparation for Advent, I read a book I mysteriously found on our bookshelf (I literally have no idea where it came from) called A Winter Name for God by R. Scott Colglazier. While I didn't quite do all the daily readings (so busy, that Christmas season!), I was blessed and encouraged by these devotions. Each chapter is dated for the days of December and it really helped me shift my focus toward the purpose of Advent.
But it was more than that. It spoke of the winter we can often experience in our souls. Those cold, dark times where the night is so much longer than the day; where "the leaves of what we have believed might be stripped and blown away but the tree remains, as do the branches and roots." (p 97)
There is a corner of my heart that has had winter for quite some time. I try to stay positive and I try to trust and seek the Lord, but without warning it can appear - like a shiver down my spine.
On day 23 of his book, Colglazier suggests that a spiritual winter is a good time to ask, "What do I most believe about life?" He goes on from there to talk about HOPE.
Hope is not necessarily the same as optimism. It's the choice to believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. It's knowing that He has laid out the paths of our lives and desires for us live in the fullness of His joy. (see Psalm 16:11)
During the winter times of my faith journey, I choose to believe.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
"I said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.'"
"You will be secure,
because there is hope."
And until I can plant flowers in my window box, I'll pile up the softest blankets and light many fragrant candles. I'll hunker down and get cozy until the winter passes again.