Winter trees have shed their leaves
Their stark and brittle branches hold fast
These skeletal remains see shorter days
By night an eerie shadow they cast
Gone is summer’s sun-kissed splendor
Gone the multicolored cloak of fall
Spring’s bright hope too far in the future
Does winter bring new life at all?
The austere ground bears a frosty coat
The environment’s hardly conducive for growth
But held within the life that lingers
Lies the yearned for gift of hope
Held within the life that lingers
In nature’s vault and human souls
Life-giving gifts take root and flourish
Nature’s blessings become soulfully whole
Even with winter’s woeful wind
And the dreary darkness that descends at night
Light shines forth from the hands outstretched
That offer life-giving gifts so bright.
In many places winter conditions do not support natural life and growth. Frost kills plants, animals seek shelter from the cold, and snow can be a hazard. Yet, year after year, the ground warms with the coming of spring, trees bud, flowers sprout, and all those signs of life that were hidden all winter appear once again. Where were those signs of life during the winter months? They were internal—in the seeds taking root in the ground, inside shelters, and inside plants, animals, and people.
There are parallels between the seasons of winter and spring to the season of Lent and Easter. The signs of life that shine forth in Easter, are obscured or hidden during the solemn preparatory period of Lent. During Lent we turn to the internal (some do this in prayer and fasting, making an intentional reading choice, or engaging in a certain ministry or service), and tend to God’s interaction with us. That relationship is the life among the winter conditions of business, stress, trials, pain, etc. In turning to the internal and tending to our spiritual lives, we foster life-giving gifts—gifts to offer others.