Saturday, 6 January 2018

The gifts of winter by Philippa Linton

The beauty of winter light ... flooded water meadows, Bawburgh, Norfolk, December 2017
Winter is my least favourite season – I don’t like the cold and the short, dark days and the lack of light.  I start counting down from the Winter Solstice and eagerly watch the days start to lengthen in late January, willing the weeks to pass to the first signs of spring.

Winter is hard work.  Everything takes longer, because you have to scrape ice off the car, or trudge through snow to the station.  Dressing takes longer, as you have to add extra layers to your clothing. 

The grey skies are oppressive.  I start wishing I lived in California, or in one of the Mediterranean countries, rather than in repressed, buttoned-up England.

Or else I wish for a ‘proper’ winter, a Scandinavian or a Canadian winter, with deep falls of snow that reach the roofs of people’s houses, rather than the murky, sludgy, half-baked kind of winter we get in my corner of south east England. 

Yet winter has its own austere beauty.  I love seeing naked trees silhouetted against pale winter sunlight, their spiny branches like black lace.  There is no light as pure as that of an icy winter sunrise, a seemingly primeval light from the dawn of time itself when the sky is as pale as a pearl, with exquisite veils of pink and mauve drawn across it.  Winter sunsets seem to have a deeper glow than summer ones.  I miss the sun in winter but when it does appear, the quality of the light is beautiful.

The silence and coldness of winter hide the fact that beneath the frozen earth, life is stirring, ready to erupt in the spring.   The silence and coldness of winter are for real, of course, but they’re not the whole story.  The earth is merely sleeping in her winter garments: she’s not dead.

I like living in the Northern Hemisphere, in a temperate climate where each of the four seasons has its own unique beauty.  The barren beauty of winter makes me appreciate the return of the spring so much more. 

Therefore I thank God for the gifts of winter.

Winter tells me that frozen emotions can thaw.

Winter says to me that loss and grief and pain will one day be healed, that just as the earth experiences resurrection, so shall we.

Winter tells me that if we feel spiritually dead, we can live again.

I believe it, and so I am grateful for winter, because God makes everything beautiful in its time.
Winter sunset, Norfolk, December 2017

Philippa Linton is a Lay Reader in the Anglican church.  Her day job is working for the Education & Learning Department of the United Reformed Church.  She likes J.R.R. Tolkien, Gerard Manley Hopkins, cats, and early 20th century feminism.


  1. Some great photos. Also some great thoughts. So often God is working behind the scenes in our lives, we just don't see it, but in his time he brings new life and growth.

  2. Beautiful! I also love winter trees. A very evocative post which exactly reflects my feelings about winter ☺️