It had been sullen gray every day for more than a week, so yesterday afternoon’s sunshine was welcome relief, even though it was accompanied by some, shall we say, ‘crisp’ temperatures. We seem to be fully entrenched in the Wisconsin winter trend of sunny but frigid, warming only to snow. Still, it was delightful to be able to watch a sunset again.
It is interesting that in summertime the world seems alive with life and color, and yet the shadows of summer are dark and seemingly colorless. But in winter, when the landscape is stark and white, blue shadows stretch over the snow and turn deeper hues of blue as the sun slips lower and lower.
I took the opportunity after supper to go out into the full night and enjoy some stargazing. It was a night for mittens, boots, hat pulled down low and coat collar turned up. The night sky always deepens, but in winter the blackness seems limitless, while the stars seem that much brighter by comparison. The night sky of winter allows one to stand on the edge and view up into the eternal.
Even though the moon was full last week and is now just a sliver, everything standing still casts a clearly visible shadow across the snow. Those shadows appear almost black but with a discernable deep purple hue.
There is a noticeable wind on this clear night. In summer, when the sky is clear the wind almost always dies back to either just the waft of a breath, or else to near stillness. On this winter night though, there is a gusting wind that rushes through the tall white pines gathered two hundred yards to the north. Each burst through their swaying branches sounds similar to waves breaking on the beach. There is just enough of a lull between each wind gust so that there is a fraction of silence between them, as when the summertime waves crawl as far up the beach as they can and then melt into the sand.
With some distance now between the white pines and me, the night slips deeply into silence. No bird calls. No chirping crickets or peeping frogs. Quiet blankets the earth. In such a quiet, one can hear the yearning of your own heart that so often is drowned out in the business of life. In such a quiet one can hear the voice of God. Winter nights such as these are an invitation to prayer. Silent night; Holy night.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations; I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46:10-11)