Weathering the Winter Storms – Lessons for the Soul.

by Christine Sine
tree icicles

tree icicles

Last week we had snow and then ice storms in Seattle. The city ground to a halt and anyone who could hibernated for a couple of days. Outside the trees were festooned with snow and icicles formed along their branches. How do they survive I wondered? Some of my time last week was spent researching this very question. And the answers are astounding with powerful implications for my faith.

…trees are large, tall, and immovable. They have no choice but to face everything winter can throw at them.  And yet, as you travel north throughout the world one thing is ubiquitous: forests… (read the entire article)

A tree begins to prepare for winter far in advance of the icy blasts. In August as the days begin to shorten, chemical reactions occur in the tree signalling the need to slow down, stop growing and get ready. It is this that produces the vibrant colours of autumn. At the same time, deciduous trees set buds that contain next year’s leaves and flowers and then go into a dormancy, at least above ground. In some species the roots continue to grow, strengthening the tree as they search out water that has not frozen.
That is not enough however to cope with the destructive force of freezing water that can send sharp penetrating icicles through cell membranes anywhere. That too a winter hardy tree knows how to cope with. As the weather cools, the concentration of sugar in each cell increases dramatically and the plasma membrane becomes more flexible. It’s as though it produces its own sugary antifreeze that embraces the precious cell contents and keeps it safe until spring. The sap of the sugar maple, which is tapped for maple syrup, is a particularly good example of this.
As I read this last week I was overawed at the creativity and adaptability of God’s creation and I thought – how do I prepare for the times of winter that inevitably come to my life? Do I know how to recognize the first signs that winter is approaching so that I too can hunker down and allow my spirit to rest without feeling that I need to keep growing and producing? Or even more challenging am I willing to form buds that need to wait until next year to grow and produce?
If those buds that were set in August start growing prematurely they will be destroyed by the next icy winter’s blast. The tree will produce no leaves or fruit next year. It has no chlorophyll for photosynthesis and is likely to starve and die. This description has resonated in my soul this week as I feel I am in a time of winter. It is as though God has set buds for next year’s growth and I desperately want to see them spring into life. But God is saying, not yet, wait for the lengthening of days and the warming of the air. In the mean time enjoy the sweet sugary embrace of my protective presence. Allow your roots to grow down to the deep water you will need for the coming summer and enjoy the peace of a world at rest.

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4 comments

Andy Wade January 23, 2012 - 10:30 am

Wonderful reflection, Christine! I particularly like the last line, “God is saying, not yet, wait for the lengthening of days and the warming of the air. In the mean time enjoy the sweet sugary embrace of my protective presence. Allow your roots to grow down to the deep water you will need for the coming summer and enjoy the peace of a world at rest.”

Reply
Christine Sine January 23, 2012 - 10:44 am

Thanks Andy – I feel like this is where both I and MSA are at presently

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Jeri Bidinger January 24, 2012 - 1:45 am

From another who experiences winter while continuing to wonder what happened to the desires and energy of spring and summer, thanks for the thought and prayer-provoking words.

Reply
Christine Sine January 24, 2012 - 7:30 am

Thanks Jeri – the ongoing journey is not always easy, but I am aware more than ever that it is in the tough times that we grow the most

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