Winter - the frosty clouds of breath in the air, the wind reddening cheeks and noses, the pinch of cold in one's lungs. Dark skeletons of trees against the sky, mouldering piles of dead-brown, fallen leaves, and the low grey clouds that hint of snow.
While not my favorite month of the year, I still enjoy the poetry of winter. I appreciate the fact that things must die before they can live again, and winter is that part of the cycle - death. Plants 'die', going into the dormant stage, where nothing grows. The grass fades from a lush, verdant green to a dull, greying brown. The cold is bitter, the wind is harsh, the elements unforgiving. One should dress warmly, or the cold shall seep into your bones, holding you tight in its chilling grasp.
But always after winter and death, there is the promise of spring and new life again. Flowers, daring and brazen, push their colorful heads from beneath layers of frozen earth and snow, urging the blanket of white to melt and disappear. The early spring flowers are conquorers, daring to face the bitter winter and demand that it give way to pleasant spring. Dying on the battle lines, frost etching their cold petals, they make way for the rest of the flowers. Most of the first flowers are hardy enough that the outlast any artillary with which Winter can blast them, while others must fight the instinctive urge to bow and succumb to the wind and rage of winter's ice.
Winter's cold is bitter, and most animals burrow away, sleeping until spring returns. Others thrive on winter's chill, like the chickadees, bright and cheerful, black and gray against a white backdrop of snow. The green growing things have winter-lovers, too. The bright nandinas and the holly plants glow with a red and green fervor that rivals the Christmas lights. While other trees drop their leaves, shivering naked in the cold, evergreens keep their needles, dark sprucey green against the grays and whites of winter.
Many people hate the cold, the death, the cheerless grey of sky and earth. But when it snows, a white blanket covers the earth, giving the world a sense of peace, of unity. It as though the universe bows to a greater cause, bending its knee to the Creator who fashioned each lilting crystal flake by hand.
Snow always reminds me of the One who created it. Unsullied, it hides the grey and brokeness of the frozen ground, blanketing all things in a uniform white. It softens the edges of the world and muffles the hurried sounds of life. As it sparkles in the light, each flake unique, and yet all together one, in awe I whisper, "Emmanuel." God with us. Here to dwell. White and spotless, innocent. The Lamb of God, come to take away the sin of the world.
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Wash me, and I will be made whole.
Clean, pure snow is a sparkling white. And yet with the crimson blood of Emmanuel, Messiah, your soul can be whiter than snow. To think that the Lord of heaven and earth, who holds the universe in His very hand, who created all things with words, and holds all things together... to think that He died so that my soul can be whiter than snow.
It is an amazing thought.