14
Feb
21

Wintering

Good morning and happy V-Day from frigid Fort Collins, Colorado.

Joan and I woke up to a nippy minus seven degrees Fahrenheit this morning… headed for a daytime high of zero and a nighttime low later of -17.

Yes, you read that correctly. Negative seventeen degrees.

How cold is it, you ask? And right on cue, Johnny Carson answers:

  • “It is so cold my teeth froze together.”
  • “It is so cold my heartburn is cured.”
  • “It is so cold even the squirrels had thermal underwear.”
  • “It was so cold hitchhikers were holding up pictures of thumbs.”
  • “It was so cold the eye doctor was giving away free ice scrapers with every purchase of a new pair of eyeglasses.”
  • “It was so cold squirrels in the park were throwing themselves at electric fences.”
  • “It was so cold Starbucks was selling coffee on a stick.”

[Kids… go ask your parents who Johnny Carson was. And while you’re at it, tune in some re-runs of the pre-Jimmy Fallon, pre-Jay Leno Tonight Show.]

The bunny footprints you see in this picture of our front sidewalk are probably the only set of footprints this sidewalk will see today. We are huddled up and hunkering down until we see AT LEAST double digits (positive) on the thermometer.

We are engaged in that ancient practice known as WINTERING.

And whether you are a fan of the season or not, WINTERING turns out to be an essential human activity. It is a time to slow down one’s heart rate and activity level… a time to withdraw… a time to become enfolded in warmth… a time to just BE.

Bears have another name for this time; they call it “hibernation.”

I tell people I am not a fan of winter because I hate cold weather. And while there is a dash of truth in that statement, it fails to tell the whole story. 

The more complete answer is that I also don’t like winter because I don’t like to slow down. I find that I am too susceptible to the myth that tells me that the good life is the busy life… that I must regularly PRODUCE something in order to justify my place on the earth.

Does that ring any familiar bells with YOU?

Botanists will tell you that valuable things happen to plants in the winter. Even though all of the grass and shrubs in your yard look deader than Gary Hart’s political career [again, kids… ask your parents about Gary Hart. And see if they can also shed any light on why a guy would exclusively use 80’s cultural references in his blog] there are still important processes going on. Damaged cells are repairing themselves. We also know that when the plant above the ground stops growing, the root system below the ground has a chance to grow and extend. 

When the cold and snow of winter descends, the plant takes a necessary break in order to gain strength for the next season…

… just like you and I do at night when we sleep.

So, I wonder… do you think it’s possible that this entire global pandemic we’ve been dealing with might be a kind of “wintering” experience for the world? I mean, is COVID conceivably giving all of creation the opportunity to slow down… take shelter… withdraw… and renew?

I certainly don’t like the idea of quarantining, but I get it. Social intercourse spreads disease. But maybe instead of focusing only on what Joan and I have LOST during this prolonged lockdown, I could stop… step back… and let this interlude have its full, desired, renewing effect. 

To everything there is a season,” according to The Teacher. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NRSV)

I guess that even applies to winter.

Abundant blessings;


1 Response to “Wintering”


  1. February 15, 2021 at 1:01 am

    I don’t mind wintering, but I just don’t like winter.


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