Renewed

Now that we have reached mid February it really feels like the bleak midwinter. I guess it’s not that cold outside, just cold enough that if you live in a drafty house and find yourself writing a blog post near the window, you may need an extra sweater, a blanket, or a steaming cup of tea for warmth.

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As I write these words a blustering snow storm has overtaken my neighborhood. Usually during this time of year I would be sick of winter and the dancing snowflakes that blow by my window would be taunting me. But something has changed me this winter.

My boyfriend is a December baby. Born between autumn and winter, he is a man who loves anything and everything to do with this time of year. From Christmas, to the first snowfall, to the icicles hanging from the gutters of his house, he enjoys it all. Just yesterday on a freezing 6 degree day, he texted me saying he’d be taking his dog on a walk through the nature trails near his house. He often takes his German Shepherd, Bane, through leafless forests along snow covered trails where the woods are about as quiet as a city street during a global pandemic.

When I first told him I didn’t like winter, he gasped, and informed me that winter is a great time of year. “Sure it is a little different from the other three seasons,” he agreed, “but it’s a great time for reflection, restoration, and relaxation.”So in attempts to embrace this undesirable season of the year, I started thinking of winter as a sort of season of renewing myself.

To be honest, winter and I got off to a very rough start. In early February I blogged about my battle with migraines. I attributed these tension headaches partly to the deafening darkness of winter, coupled with the fact that I have been cooped up inside for months. But as my health has progressed and I have resumed my work-from-home life, I have continued to dwell on the idea that winter is a time for restoration, reflection, and relaxation. I’m sure you would agree that everyone needs at least one of these three after a year like 2020. But what does that look like exactly?

For me restoration involves much needed time in God’s word accompanied by worship music and quiet moments of morning meditation. Reflection is reading aloud from my old journal entries, sifting through virtual photo albums from years ago, and laughing with my roommates at memories before the pandemic. Relaxation is doing whatever feels right for the day. Often relaxing involves an Afrofitness workout routine on Youtube followed by yoga with Adrienne, dinner with my roommates, and a Facetime call to my boyfriend.

Back in December, I walked with him through the woods near his house. “It’s so refreshing to be outside in winter,” I breathed into the silent air, watching as my visible breath escaped my mouth. “What’s that you said?” he asked, a smile brightening his face. “Refreshing . . . restoring . . . relaxing. . .”, he teased, emphasizing each word in an I told you so sort of way. I nodded, smiling back.

I suppose I’ve learned that being outdoors in winter is not only refreshing but also rewarding. There is so much of the world that goes unseen, like the frozen February sunsets where trees are silhouetted against the painted horizon, or a cloudless afternoon where the sunshine bedazzles the snow like a sea of crystals.

How are you spending these winter months? Are reflection, restoration, or relaxation part of your daily cadence?

Steadfast

It’s Saturday and I’m trying not to scorch my already partially burned tongue on a cup of Chamomile tea. The house smells of banana bread and the sun has retreated behind the clouds for the evening. Snow blows diagonally outside and begins to gather on the dead grass, the tree bark, and the parked cars outside my window. In quiet gratitude I think about all the normal things I did today, things I haven’t been able to do—or rather my health has not permitted me to do—in a few months.

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