When the snow falls, numberless snowflakes dance, twirling up and down, side to side, over and under, ending in delicate embrace to cover branch and ground and road. The seeming lack of color becomes a deep hue all its own, reflecting and absorbing from all those around it. Whether lying still under slate gray skies or sparkling bright under winter sun, the snow glows alive. Dripping water slows and freezes and icesicles gleam from eaves like a carefully strung diamond necklace.
But winter season is not always snow-laden and icy, at least in our part of the country.
Before the snow comes, the winds blow cold and bitter, driving the leaves from the trees, across the fields, into gullies where they lie cold and rotting. And where once there were trees full of leaves, now only bare arms of trees reach pleading to the skies.
Compared to the new, bright green shoots of spring, or the lush fullness of summer trees, or even the stunning colors in the death gasp of autumn, it is a stark landscape. Grays and browns and shades of beige — and the bare arms of trees pleading to the skies.
And between the bare tree arms, there are spaces.
In the winter season, there are spaces through which a person can see things that are hidden from view at all other times of the year. Through the trees through our home, I recently saw a meadow and a long driveway leading to a large country house on a ridge that I had never seen before. Until winter came, I was blind to its existence.
So it is in the winter seasons of our souls. There are times when it appears that something has died in or around us: a dream, a relationship, an opportunity, what you expected out of life, family closeness. Nothing is growing, nothing is fruitful, no horizons beckon. Emotions and affections have grown cold. Your heart is bored, or apathetic, or confused, or broken. Everything feels empty.
But the empty may also be spaces. Spaces where you can see things that are hidden from view in other seasons of your life.
What might you see in the soul’s winter spaces?
You might see people in a new way, noticing some people to love or serve or be loved by that you had never noticed before.
You might see that some of the things that once seemed so essential are now little more than clutter.
You might get perspective on what’s important and what’s trivial.
You might see a new path for the next season, or glimpse a new road that beckons your exploring.
You might see that God is in places you’ve never looked for Him.
Or that the life you have cultivated in most seasons tends to hide Him.
You might see that even when your circumstances are a crushing and seemingly endless darkness, the gospel of Jesus remains a beautiful and hopeful promise.
You might see that only in the spaces.
So, when it’s winter in your soul, gaze across the stark landscape. Look in the spaces, and see. You’ll find the spaces are beautiful, too.
Because the spaces are never truly empty.