The Paradox of Winter

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There is something very special about seasons which change every three months. It is a gift of nature more marked for those of us who live further from the Equator, although, also there, different wind and weather patterns  play a season role.

Living in northern England, we can love the leaves changing in autumn, but have  faint dread of the colder winter coming, Of course, if it is a day of clear skies and minus two degrees Celsius or so ,the world is wonderful and the cold is crisp and very special. But change that to plus one degree Celsius with a wind and deep cloud cover and the land and the mood is not uplifted but depressed and weary. Winter.

As I write, in mid January, I hear the birdsong of a blackbird who has been day after day at the top of the old beech tree, singing and singing into the leaden sky. It was Christmas Day when I first noticed him and he brightened the complete time of daylight. Clinging to the top branch, swaying in the cold breeze. The bird has come and sung numerous times in the same tree since. He sings in the early morning, he sings in the mid afternoon and as dusk creeps into the light,he gives a final song before dark. We may be finding winter gloomy but the birds are out, singing, snatching seeds gratefully at their table and active .Winter.

The grass of the lawn is uneven with brown, dying patches, and moss patches are breaking out in brighter greens. And there around the edges, the promise of new life as daffodil shoots come through and stretch out for light and set themselves free from being brown bulbs. I marvel at this promise of life to come and promise of it coming soon . And hidden in the shelter of a small tree, the first snowdrop is still encased, but ready to break out and bloom. Winter. 

So the birds sing through this winter and the flowers know there is a new day coming and in the middle of the winter both can put out the promise of spring and regeneration.And creation wraps that blessing of daylight around them as the earth in the north has turned passed the winter solstice.

Winter, a hard and cold season ,has been given treasures from creation to relish and use for sustenance, for encouragement , for our nurture. The light has shined in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it .

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Commuting in Advent

It’s the darkness that is such a changer of the atmosphere.Leaving home in the dark ,coming home in the dark .The central nervous system’s pressure to hibernate. So the promise of lights and fires and warmth is deeply attractive . 

Light is a beacon for me now , sitting in a modern door less station shelter, designed to keep the air fresh,but with no lights .Cold.The tall light shining onto the platform edge gives warning of the darkness of the tracks three feet below. I’ve chosen not to drop into the pub,”The Station” perversely so I don’t get too warm ,nor too comfortable. But the damp cold draught is beginning to chill me. Train cancelled.Forty minutes wait. 

The silence is broken by a man’s shouts .’You f…..ing idiot,you hate my family ‘.He comes closer with a women who enters the shelter first.She nods when I ask if she is alright, and the shouter rants and swears on .I ask him to please stop shouting and he sits and tells the women how much he loves her and how he will marry her and give her his child .I feel my indignation rise at the imposition of his plan on a women he has sworn and shouted at for more than 5 minutes in my ear shot. 

In the darkness ,the light shines and the darkness has not overcome it .

The lady friend of the ranter and I catch the train .She moves away and finds a space to herself . I think of the Syrian crisis and the wars around the world .Conflict and man’s inhumanity to man in so many forms. 

Advent .We prepare for Christmas .Lord, have mercy .