Now I don’t want to get too carried away with this, but I’m enjoying the fact that we’ve moved into Launceston in winter!
Coming from Hobart, there is a fair deal of curiosity about how I’m coping with winter here, together with the odd comment like: “Well, yes, the nights might be colder but the days are nicer… AREN’T THEY?” And, I have to say, I’m inclined to agree, even as I wash the frost off my car in the mornings.
The fact is, I like winter – mostly! I like it as a season in its own right, and also for its symbolic importance in the rhythm of life.
I believe that seasons are important, and it matters to me that they are quite different from each other. If I lived nearer the equator I would struggle with the lack of cold days to balance the hot. I would miss the cold and wind and rain – again, mostly!
When I lived in Burra, South Australia, I learned to love the winter as a time when things slowed a bit, when fences and equipment were maintained, when decisions and preparations were made for spring crops and ‘new season’ stock levels etc. It was a time when the paddocks looked dead and bare, but we knew that the seeds which had been sown in May were waiting under the soil for the right time to take off and grow.
Winter has become a symbol for me, of the timeliness and rhythm within life and faith. I think we need winter, and that it’s actually a gift to us. It’s a time when we can attend to what is important to us, and to our priorities. It can be a time of preparing for the things we might do together when the days warm up a bit. It can be a time for letting go. It can be a time of stillness, and even of rest. Perhaps it might be the ‘sabbath’ or ‘jubilee’ for our life.
I recognise that this is counter-cultural with the dominant religion of our day (“the market”), with its focus on constant growth, but I think it’s true and important none the less. But, as the author Edward Abbey reminded us many years ago, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” We actually need to stop sometimes! Winter can be a really good time to do this, as well as a good symbol for that sense of sabbath.
Jesus’ story of the seed growing in secret makes it clear that he understood the need for seasons, despite his lack of awareness of seed biology and technology. He embraced the fact that there was mystery about how seeds worked, and that there was uncertainty whether they would work. Sowing seed was an exercise of trust, and an exercise in preparation for future life. As I see it (today!), sowing seeds of faith and life is a really good way to spend winter. Happy winter!