A friend recently pointed out that the population of Connecticut moves to rhythms rather than to routine. As a native Okie gal, I found this observation intriguing; my soul took a deep breath and smiled. Of course! Of course Connecticutians (or Connecticutters, or whatever they may be) adhere more to rhythm than routine. And of course this would be another reason God meets me in New England in the places I’d least expect.
So my soul sways to rhythms, taking a cue from the weather (which, today, is deliciously foggy but warmer than it’s been in months). There are three possible responses to this fact: I can struggle against it, be dominated by it, or embrace it. There’s really no point in fighting rhythm, so the first one’s out. Being dominated by it doesn’t sound like much fun either. How, then, shall I make the most of this tail-end of winter?
1. Light all the candles. Literally: What am I stockpiling them for anyway? No more hoarding “in case I need them later;” light ’em up and enjoy displaying how Christ shines into the darkness no matter how the shadows may thrash about. Lent calls for a tad more intentional brightness than usual, no? Figuratively: How can I collect light and scatter it around my life? Maybe gathering Scripture passages that are particularly poignant. Or filling my Twitter feed with beauty seekers. Or setting alarms throughout the day to practice the presence of Christ. Or having coffee with fountain people.* I’ve let a scarcity mindset infiltrate my being long enough. I can live with prodigal faith—with wasteful extravagance—cashing in all my emotional resources for this dark season, knowing full well my Daddy has vast wealth and will take enormous pleasure in providing more for next winter. Let’s be relentless in our pursuit of light in the here and now.
2. Cozy up with a book and a beverage. How sad to relinquish winter without having taken at least one grand adventure! Find your chunkiest blanket and favorite childhood story to reacquaint your soul with heroes worth emulating. These final days of mist and melancholy are perfect for daydreaming about who God might be calling you to become. Which themes sing your spirit forward? Which threads echo the gospel in a compelling way? Story is one of the most untapped resources available to us, and we neglect it to our detriment. Throw in a seasonal snack, and you’re golden!
3. Reflect. It’s okay to lie dormant for a little while. Kingdom cadences point to inward movement long before any sign of outer activity. (Mustard seeds grow roots downward first, right?) Let the Spirit have full dominion over your inner garden, weeding and pruning and strengthening and fertilizing and rearranging as He pleases. No need to force blooms here. Stay alert and curious, ready to meet His promptings with a yes. The better you know yourself, the more you can celebrate God’s work in you as tiny changes occur.
4. Capitalize on the internal season. Relationally: Host a game night. Try a Disney movie marathon. Cook something warm and gooey that tastes like home. Set up a last hurrah hot cocoa bar. Build blanket forts. Physically: Pay attention to your body’s needs. This is a great chance to increase rest, regulate nutrition, and find a way of being active that brings you joy. Spiritually: Sabbath. Read your Bible slowly and thoughtfully. Pray without feeling rushed. Curate the perfect worship playlist to lead your heart to the throne of grace. Emotionally: Evaluate how you’re doing in the feels department. Could you benefit from counseling? From some girl time? From turning off the news?
5. Maximize margin. If you were to list every responsibility, endeavor, project, and chore you’ve got to deal with in the next month, how many of those would be things only you can do? Where have you accumulated to-dos that God never asked you to pick up and carry around? Fight for white space in your calendar—no one else will do that precious work for you.
I really can’t wait for spring, but it would be such a shame to miss the last bit of dreary cold this season has to offer before moving into the brilliant blossoms and earthy scents of the next one. God has not stopped working; Aslan is still on the move, and He has tons of experience working in the midst of winter. Keep your eyes open and your heart ready for the first hint of a roar.
*If this phrase is new to you, imagine that everyone you know is either a fountain (providing life and refreshment and joy and peace to others) or a drain (taking those things away and absorbing them). Different seasons determine whether we are fountains or drains, and God doesn’t love fountains more than drains. It’s healthy to have both kinds of people in your regular interactions, but in the depths of winter, it’s particularly important that we make scheduling fountain time a priority.