I’m always sad to see the Christmas lights come down, it feels so bare and empty, but I do not want to push spring. I feel a need to allow the bareness. I don’t want to see bulbs being forced into blooming in these months of quiet contemplation. I know that plants need this winter rest. And my heart seems to feel the same desire for rest, for quietude and empty space, to embrace whitespace.
We’ve just finished a year and we ended it with happy celebration. At Christmas, we cap off the current year with bright lights and beautiful decorations and as many presents as we can! We celebrate our Savior’s birth and we are thankful to Him for all His gifts of grace and beauty and mercy. We are glad to have made it through another year. And at the same time, we are happy to have a new one, so we can try again. The old year may have been good to us, but we know there are still better things to come. The old year may have been challenging, sad or just plain hard. We are ready to move into a new place, with hope in our heart that the new one will indeed be better.
A good year creates confident HOPE for the new one.
A hard year gives us the hope-through-gritted-teeth kind of HOPE. It may be a small hope, but it’s there, hope for better things to come.
Our hearts, need time to process the old to be able to move forward. Unprocessed difficulty leads to baggage in the form of fear or perhaps a wrong belief (such as “I’ll never…”, “I’m not good enough to…”, “no one cares…”). Personally, the last thing I need is more problems, especially the kind I create for myself.
When we allow ourselves to marinade in the quiet emptiness of winter, we are processing the events that affected us, and let any hardness soften. Just as plants are re-grouping and gaining energy in their rest, we need that time as well. I’m trying to let January be a total, down-time. Having “the cold from hell” helped me rest. Well, truthfully, it MADE me rest. I didn’t want to rest and for a few days my mind did not rest. I fought and fussed and felt like I’d somehow failed because those germs got the upper hand. There was a conference at church that weekend and I wanted to participate! Why couldn’t I shake that cold and go to church?? Finally, I gave in and just rested. No. I didn’t not stop doing everything I could physically to combat the cold, but I made my mind be quiet. I did not spend that time thinking about what goals need to be set or what changes I want to see for the coming year. Having a snow event also made me slow down. Just as I was feeling better, the snow brought everything to a sliding halt. But, miraculously, I allowed myself to become fascinated with the process of tiny flakes of snow creating a huge blanket that covered everything and, no matter how ugly, it all became beautiful and soft.
February will see me setting some plans for change, but it will be mixed liberally with large portions of quiet and rest. I need rest to soften the edges of my soul. And like snow, it takes a lot of time to put together enough quiet to affect a change. I want to hear God’s voice, especially when I’m seeking direction for plans and changes. But God doesn’t shout very often. He doesn’t yell at you when you’re dashing down the road. For me to hear God’s voice generally requires silence on my part. Sure, I hear whispers as I hurry; I can hear small directions, little encouragements. But, like those small individual snowflakes require many working together to create a blanket of peace, for me to hear fully I must take the time to be still.
All the “crush your goals” and “force your bulbs” people wear me out. I’m not ready to rush into hyper-organization mode. I’m not lazy. I like a good project as much as the next person. And plans? Oh please! I love plans! I just do not want to start running before I’m prepared. You cannot run a marathon before you’ve conquered a mile. You can’t (shouldn’t) run a mile before you’ve stretched. I don’t want to dash off in the wrong direction and waste time.
Rest is not time wasted. Rest is preparation. Remember those plants in the ground?
Our human body and soul needs rest.
My body and soul needs the quiet rest of winter, to be ready to bloom in the spring.
How about you? Have you made resolutions? Do you have plans for change this year?
How do you feel about this silent winter season? Do you embrace it or fight it tooth and nail?
And one last question that might seem unrelated…. Have you chosen a “word for the year”? It could be a phrase or scripture, but it’s your central theme for the New Year.
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May this winter season bring you peace as you listen for God’s voice. May you find comfort in the quiet as your soul regroups and prepares for new growth. God bless you!