I love the beginning of winter because of Christmas and the added coziness that bundling up brings. But, come February, it all starts to get a little dreary. The lights and festivities are long gone and the clean sweep of January has gathered a layer of dust. In the Pacific Northwest, the weather tends to only be varying shades of gray. On the Willamette Valley floor, we rarely even see snow. The sky stays gray, the pavement is gray, and the red and yellow leaves I had gathered to shelter our raised bed have turned their own shade of brown-gray. Sometime in mid-February, the gray days seem endless, and a lot of people I know slide into a funk, waiting for the gray to dissipate.And, then March comes. While it is still gray, the green begins to trickle back in, announcing that everything that looked dead and wasted was alive this whole time. It always feels like magic to walk outside one day and see that first flush of green. It seems hopeful, fresh, and rejuvenated. We all start to come back to life and rush outdoors at the first streak of sunshine, even if the cold still lingers. We declare our love of warm weather, t-shirts, and fresh air.While I agree, I wonder if some of us miss the beauty of that dead, gray winter with no snow. There seems to be so little beauty in the dead and decaying landscape. But, it wasn’t ever dead, it was just waiting. It was sitting and cooling and storing energy. It was working hard in its waiting.
Did you know that many early spring bulbs actually need time to chill?
According to American Meadows, “Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils must be planted in the fall or early winter to bloom in spring because they require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process that causes them to flower.”
Without the cold, gray days of winter here in the Northwest, we would never be able to look forward to the spring bulbs that emerge every year, dotting the gray with color.
I think we can have a gray, winter attitude toward waiting in our own lives. We often want to jump up and accomplish our goals, but sometimes life forces us to wait through illnesses, financial struggles, or even the baby and toddler stages of motherhood. We gripe and groan at times, wishing our life was more vibrant and colorful. We see color and excitement emerging in other people’s lives, and we envy it.
But, could it just be that God has us in a season of waiting? Maybe you are in a season of winter, and the days seem cold and gray. But, in this waiting, we are supposed to work and not just give up and give in to disappointment.
The Psalmist writes:
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
This is an active waiting. Watchmen don’t fall asleep on the job. The watchmen had to stay alert and busy with their work. Just like the trees and bulbs are actively storing energy and invisibly growing during winter, maybe we need to be actively working through our winter of waiting. If we take this time to wait patiently and work through our winter, who knows what greenery and color may be ready to burst out in our own lives?