I do not care for cold weather. The faster I age the less I like it! I have often had one-sided conversations with God about this in recent days; I understand He created the weather system; and I know He must have His "Godly" reasons for the deep freeze that I am experiencing.
I made no promises, but I did decided to take a look at winter with fresh eyes; if I find any true beauty in this frozen world, I will give Him praise for it, and I will make an effort to exchange my chill bumps for praise bumps. I will wear a new attitude along with my wool coat even though I may still be cold.
To get back to my talks with (at) God I have considered telling Him that I may try to find beauty in the dank, cold, dreary days of endless winters here in the land that He must truly love because in the spring, summer and fall it is paradise on earth.
I decided to test my new resolve one extra crispy December afternoon and take a little drive into the countryside; the day was overcast from pregnant snow clouds the low-slung ominous kind; and a northern wind, gusty and biting was astir in my land.
I drove without giving much thought to the direction; I just headed up the road. It must have been east because a weak sun filtered in over my shoulders and the trees stood starkly against a lowering sky without any backlighting. I glumly thought I was getting off to a bad start.
Although I did not want to venture too far away from roads that I knew well, I did notice that I had passed the county line; the mission for beauty drove me. The road was lonely this time of day, and so I could drive slowly and I was free to view the brittle landscape all that I wanted.
Out of the corner of my eye, I began to notice the dull black activity going on in the fields of withered brown tones that were surrounding me. This was boring. Oh wait; there was a flash of red on a wing taking flight to a low limb of a wind blasted hedge apple tree. Underneath the tree, its fruit of blackish green orbs decorated the ground.
The black birds answering the call of some secret command rose as one and circled the field. They quickly flew across my car and landed in the stripped cornfield on the other side of the road. The prickly apples of green and black and the birds graced with red spots, caused a stirring of the embers of hope; my eyes opened a little wider as I crept along.
"Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth you have for me", the old hymn was making its way to my lips and swiftly it traveled on to my heart. The knowledge that my Creator can bless my physical eye as well as my spiritual heart began to swell within my soul; and as the winter wind blew harder, deep in the core of me I began to thaw.
I entered a roadway area that was thick with woods and rugged landscape surrounded it; it looked as though a pallet knife had been used to layer snow on the north side of the stalwart trees. I noticed an old shed with a shadowy aura about it half way hidden in the woods; snow clung to the north-facing slant of the rotted wooden shingles on the pitched roof. "Snow that lingers beyond its expected life cycle is waiting for another storm to come", having been told this lore in childhood, I expected it to come true later this day.
I began to pay attention to the unique shape and texture of the earth surrounding me; on the cusp of a rocky-topped bank and almost hidden in an earth dimple stood a small bush covered in bright orange berries. The brave bush had pushed though a "double dip of snow", and a brilliant blue jay was enjoying the berries as he had a leisurely afternoon feast of them, while he sang a harsh, but rousing serenade.
The "many faceted" cones lay in piles around the stately pine trees that now ringed the steep hillside, and they shared the ground and air space with majestic oaks. The oak trees were reaching with their bare but mighty limbs into the lowering clouds as if to stave off, for a little while, the coming storm. Red fox and gray squirrels frolicked among the acorns that had escaped their earlier food finding forays, and a lone mockingbird warbled many snippets of stolen songs from a heavily needled bough, that shivered in time to the music, in the sharp winter wind.
I stopped at a small country store that perched on the edge of the narrow, twisting, road. Old gasoline pumps graced the pavement in front of stone arches that supported a tall, covered porch. The pumps were for decoration purposes now, for they were but leftover memories.
Inside the store, a sooty pot-bellied stove glowed with a dull red, and heat radiated through the tiny wood slab building. A couple of grandfathers and a little boy played checkers and ate "Saltine" crackers, with gusto, in front of the soothing heat source, what a scene! I checked my green glass "coke" bottle, to see if it had been made using sugar cane, sadly, it had not so I felt sure I was still in the twenty-first century.
While stopping for a soda, I had found a beauty composed of sights, sounds and emotions, a beauty that surprised me. A strange but pleasing nostalgia had almost overwhelmed me, as I thought of cold days long ago, laced with bologna and mustard sandwiches, Dr. Pepper and cheese crackers. What, beauty found in winter memories?
I turn my car around on a wide graveled pathway and flip on my satellite radio (I consider it my one true luxury in retirement). I found an oldies station playing songs from the blues and jazz era, my favorite music types. Billie Holiday, with her soulful, emotion filled rendition of "God Bless the Child" is warming the air around me. The mood is set; with my "winter eyes" still searching for God sent beauties I traveled toward home.
I feel that my attitude is changing. My eyes found color today in this black and white world; my ears, blessed by bird calls and a persistent wind whistling an unfamiliar though cheery tune through my "air tight" window. Beauty in the scampering of forest animals, by the interplay of fun during a simple game, in refreshment enjoyed, and in memories of times almost forgotten.
God's beauty found in things that "are" and not only in things beheld was a revelation re-visited to me. Great snowflakes began to fall, and I struggled to look through and not at them as I pondered this thought, "winter causes one to view beauty in a new light."
Peace and contentment settled around me as the heavy, wet snow fell to earth and snuggled down and over everything in its path. It was as though God in His winter mood shook the billowing clouds and spread snow over His rumpled earth bed, and in doing so gave us the desire for warmth and comfort while viewing His handiwork.
Once again I noticed all that was around me, the tree's thick bark crevasse were turning white causing the rest of the trunk to stand out in black relief. Gone was the tone on tone of brown, and hidden were the textures of the frozen earth. The mantle of snow came as a blessing, as a hush in my heart, and as a sweet quietude in the land. It came as a holy beauty to my eyes.
I arrived at my home, with my heart lightened by a new inner determination and feeling ever joyful in my spirits. I know my Maker will keep His arm a little closer around me day by day, and if I keep Him the focus of my "winter" eyes, I will endure. Chill bumps may come and go, but I will bask in another beauty, His promise of the spring that is sure to come.
Truth: Genesis 1:14-15
God said, "I command lights to appear in the sky and to separate day from night and to show time for seasons, special days and years. I command them to shine on earth." And that's what happened.