A reflection for February 5, 2023 by Mary Lou Edgar.
It is hard to believe that we are in the middle of winter. We have had many nice days and although there have been – and will be – some very cold days, it is a time to enjoy some of the changes that the season provides. Christmas and New Years have passed There is a lull. Our focus changes. Football fans are excited to see the Philadelphia Eagles go to the Super Bowl. For many, football in cold weather is a winter tradition. For others, winter sports take center stage. Maybe not football, but skiing, skating, and snowboarding are very popular. Kids are often off from school. Interestingly enough, few people say they are looking forward to it or genuinely enjoy it. Carl Reiner says “I understand that a lot of people who like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” Others think it is so beautiful – clean and fresh. That is, of course, until it becomes black, icy, and needs to be shoveled.
For me, winter and snow are synonymous with joy. Life in mountainous areas is almost always impacted by snow. Growing up, I loved it when it snowed. We all did! It would be so deep and a playground unlike any other. Winter is one of my fondest memories!. When the snow would start, I would watch it come down and think that each snowflake was different, just like each of us. In other seasons we heard various wild animals at night. In the winter, all was quiet. Most birds were gone along with their familiar evening noises. Mornings there were still a small number of brave birds, but most of the more fearful animals were sleeping or quietly looking for something to eat.
We all need to learn more about winter. Just as the bears hibernate in their dens (or under your deck depending on where you are), we need to do the same. When it is so cold that we are not comfortable leaving our home, or we are feeling stuck because the roads are icy, make that time precious. Spend it with God. There are always so many excuses about praying. There are so many things that demand our attention. We convince ourselves we have no time. And yet, if we seriously think about it, who of us doesn’t have twenty minutes to share with the Lord. When we need it, we don’t seem to have any trouble asking the Lord for twenty minutes for us. Maybe read a scripture passage and then begin thinking about what it says. How about reading a book with meditation ideas or even offering something you are struggling with to God. Then wait to hear what the answer is. It will come. We are especially fortunate at SsAM because we can participate in the daily office each day.
In winter, days are initially shorter but become longer. It is darker and colder during this time than at any other time of the year. For most of us, that equates to dreary and depressing. But it is the time when everything in our world lies dormant – waiting to be revitalized in the spring. Like the hibernating bear, plants too are resting, waiting for the sun to call them forth. The trees are bare, waiting for the warmth to encourage buds and growth. For us too, winter is a “wind down” time, a time to become part of the natural order of things. It is a time to look back and see changes we might make when spring and warmth return. It is a time to become more cognizant of those around us, and a time to learn about ourselves. Winter is different than any of the other three seasons, but that starkness is a gift – an invitation to solitude, an invitation to prayer. It gives us the opportunity to looks towards the spring with anticipation. Join me in taking time to rest, learn, and feel the difference winter makes in each of us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neumann University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.