Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Waiting in Winter
By Helga Doermer
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Days have rapidly grown shorter and nights longer. It has been a simple matter of time before autumn bid us farewell. Late last evening a fine sprinkling of snow presaged the change of season. Tumbling temperatures overnight and a twelve inch drop of heavy white precipitation, proclaimed the advent of winter by early morning.
I awakened to a dusky rose glow before the sun had even climbed to the horizon. The unusual lighting was fashioned by fresh fallen snow reflecting city lights. Outside my bedroom window the naked elm tree stood transformed, the trunk and limbs traced in luminous silhouette. Vehicles lining the curb were concealed. They awaited a dusting and window scraping before being ready for the road. The few lingering flowers and grasses were fully covered. Only webs of shrub twigs and cedars poked through the thick blanket.
Stepping outside a few hours later, the air felt cool and moist against my cheeks and smelled sparkling clean. Street sounds were muffled by the absorbent acoustics. It is this profound silence which sets the winter season apart from every other. Though there are nights and days when the wind may howl, sigh or moan in loneliness, there is no answering murmur, rustle or whisper. The leaves are gone. The grasses are sleeping and seeds slumbering beneath their snug quilt. Even the birds are silent. In this period of waiting, all nature grows still.
This quarter of the year is likened to death or a gestating womb. Both resonate with truth, for they are but different parts of the same cycle. Every beginning has an ending and every ending a new beginning. And waiting precedes both.
Just as all nature waits in anticipation, for the beginning of a new creation – a restoration marked by celebration - people of faith wait too. The liturgical calendar draws the Christian community into the Advent season, a period of waiting in deepening darkness. For the four Sundays preceding December 25, Advent candles are lit; each one symbolizing a glimmer of illumination in the black void. Wavering flames: hope, love, peace and joy illumine the way until the Light breaks through darkness in the Christ Child’s birth.
John 1:4-5 and Isaiah 9:2
Waiting, gestating in winter’s stillness the soul turns inwards in the current darkness. In response to the season’s message, everything comes full cycle; this is a time to reflect on our lives. In deliberate prayer we too can prepare to bury the worn weary deadness inside. New dreams and desires can be kindled and planted to await the transformative Light.
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