Maybe more than any other year, I heard people say before Christmas 2010 that “snow for Christmas eve and Christmas day is fine, but it can stop after that!” I understand the sentiment: Who doesn’t want a “White Christmas?”After Christmas, however, winter means slick roads and sidewalks, shoveling snow and ice off driveways and cars, concerns about dead car batteries, and fears of closed airports. Not fun!
But, alas, on December 25, winter is just getting started! So, while there may be people who hope for no more snow, it’s not very likely. Luckily, winter presents some great opportunities to us; while we’re in relative hibernation, we can grow closer to one another, closer to God.
I learned an interesting fact not long ago: snow contains the vital soil nutrient, nitrogen. Nitrogen is absorbed by the soil in the winter (especially when the ground is not frozen), so that, in the spring, it is rich enough to supply planted crops what they need to grow well and strong. Simply put: no snow means not enough nitrogen; not enough nitrogen means unhealthy crops. So, we need snow! Without snow, the balance of nature gets disrupted.
Just as the soil gets nourished by snow in the winter, we, too, can be “nourished” by the months of winter. Feeling “stuck in the house” means that there’s more time (relative to the other months of the year) to spend with family members. It’s so easy to take them for granted, that we need (just as soil needs nitrogen) some time and space to be intentional about our care for one another. Maybe it means watching movies together, maybe it means playing games together, maybe it means discussing a book or a topic or an event together.
Lots of people tell me that it is in their family members, above all, that they experience seeing the face of God. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? Love from and for the people we’re closest to, opens us up to receiving and feeling the love of the God we cannot see. Winter is a good time to be intentional about not only family relationships, but our relationship with God. There are at least three good (and time-tested) ways to do this: private prayer, public worship, and service to the community. All are ways of sacrificing “me” time, of dying to ourselves.
Dying to self is the path to the peace and joy we celebrated at Christmas.