Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter in the Woods

Winter in the forest has a beauty all its own. Gone are the purple and yellow wildflowers that bloom in the spring. Gone are the deep green summertime leaves waving overhead in the breeze. Gone is the brilliant pallet of fall’s colors screaming for attention. Gone is the constant chorus of bird call, each looking for its mate. Instead I see all the neutral, muted browns and grays of winter. Stark in their bareness, the trees stand alone against the pale blue sky, streaked with wispy white clouds. Everything looks dull and dead.
I walk the meandering trails on this warm January day, listening to an occasional snap as a small animal rushes to its hiding place. Most of last week’s snow has melted, but in the shady bends along the path my feet crunch into patches of snow and sink in the mud. I walk in silence for over an hour, my feet cushioned by the sandy path, softened pine needles, and damp, brown, lifeless leaves.

As I walk I admire the shapes of the trees. Some stretch tall and straight, reaching their leafless branches to the winter sky. Some bend and twist, their branches overarching the path, providing a natural archway. Tangles of broken branches surround other trees, creating masses of interesting, angular shapes. Yes, winter in the forest has a beauty all its own.

If the leaves had still been clinging to the branches, I would not so easily have noticed the less colorful winter beauty in the shapes of the trees. I’m grateful for having eyes to see this barren beauty and weather nice enough to venture into the woods in January.

How often do we stop to see the beauty in the barren times of our lives? At times, like the trees, we are stripped bare of joy in our lives, burdened with pain and guilt. That’s when we most need to keep our spiritual eyes open to God’s beauty. That’s when we most need to enjoy long, quiet times with our Lord, trusting Him to reveal His beauty in the midst of our colorless world. It's then we learn to see the beauty in those barren times of our lives, for then, stripped of our finery, we more clearly see the glory of the Lord.

Father God, creator of all beauty, open my eyes to see Your beauty all around me.

Psalm 27:4 “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

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