Ohio winters are sometimes difficult to bear. They seem to last forever, sometimes into March or April. There’s a certain persistent grayness, and the dark afternoons push us indoors. Yet there is an inherent warmth to winter that I love. The pale winter light is beautiful. There is such joy in taking a walk on a cold morning, and then returning to a warm apartment. Katey and I have had such great opportunities to enjoy meals with our friends or to sit around the fireplace at her parent’s house.
There is also an unmistakable stillness to winter that permeates everything. When all the leaves of autumn have fallen, there is no sound left but the crossing of dry branches in the wind. Walking out into the first snow, there is nothing but the dull hum of a distant highway, or the tweet of Chickadee hidden in the snow. Snow falls in blankets and soaks up the noise.
In our present culture, a breath of crisp air and that sensation of stillness can relieve us temporarily from the speed of everyday life. I am reminded of the passage from Elijah, where God speaks in a whisper. God was not in the wind which shattered rocks, the earthquake, or the fire—although sometimes he is these things. In my everyday life, I often feel bombarded with noise. I constantly check my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I get emails all day. I experience various forms of media and computer screens. I have a list of to-dos.
Yet my hope is not to simply enjoy the good things of life, and escape by means of silence the bad things. Living in the presence of God empowers us to be in the midst of pain and chaos because of the silent sanctuary which exists internally, not externally. The unmistakable silence of winter helps me remember and understand this distinction.