Winter’s Clarity

Today was all set to be a beautiful day. I got up, ate breakfast, started both our cars, and proceeded the arduous work of brushing off and shoveling out the many inches of accumulated snow that had encased the two vehicles over the night. The sun shone magnificently on the snow-laden branches and eaves this morning (a rare occasion for West Michigan winter), and I even enjoyed the crisp, quiet cold while I worked. I had managed to plan my morning well in order to get my wife and myself both to work on time in spite of Old Man Winter’s interference.

Then everything fell apart. My car wouldn’t start again after I turned it off to lock the apartment. I proceeded to nearly lock the keys in the car. Praise God for good friends willing to come and help me in my elemental struggle against capricious Winter — just moments before we had been cozy companions, and suddenly we were bitter enemies. Alas, even jumper cables were not enough to resuscitate the gallant-if-aged steed, and so my good friend gave me a ride to work. I managed to arrive an hour later than I had intended, with most of my mood ruined.

Once at work, I discovered that the weather had cancelled the meeting I had been rushing to get to; after turning on my computer, I discovered it had downloaded some 114 updates the night before, and needed a good 20 minutes to reconfigure before I could use it. 20 minutes with nothing to do.

It seems that the season of Epiphany — much like the season of Winter — exists to humble me enough to bring me face-to-face with my insufficiency.

“Winter has an even greater gift to give. It comes when the sky is clear, the sun is brilliant, the trees are bare, and first snow is yet to come. It is the gift of utter clarity. . . Winter clears the landscape, however brutally, giving us a chance to see ourselves and each other more clearly, to see the very ground of our being.”

~ Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J. Palmer

I was on top of things an hour and a half ago: competent, capable, in charge. Then Winter, the car, and the computer colluded to take all that away from me, to force me to slow down, to take stock of what I really can control, and to surrender. By the end of the day, I was grateful for the reminder that God, and not I, is in control, that He is orchestrating all things together for my good — even the harsh clarity of Winter. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

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