"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

St. Helen’s Quiet Garden Mid-Winter Devotional

With storm warnings, extreme cold, towering snow drifts and dire weather predictions on a daily basis, we, in Ottawa, are all too aware of ‘the dead of winter’.  Except for the hardy souls who embrace the delights of the season with joy, or those who escape to warmer climes, many people find these long, dark days challenging; physically, spiritually and emotionally.  Our winter wilderness environment is quite different from the desert places of Palestine, but, for many, no less lonely. 

The Quiet Garden is indeed ‘quiet’; the ichthus path, buried, the sentinel trees standing watch over the white expanse.  But some days, the sun shines brilliantly and blue skies and cumulus clouds provide a backdrop worthy of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s glorious! And that beauty can remind us that we remain in the warmth of God’s embrace, whatever the season or our life circumstances at the present time may be. Pause, and let that knowledge warm your soul, if not your nose! And although I expect that everyone is tired of me saying ‘Spring is coming!’ it’s true! The spring equinox is on Wednesday, March 20 at 5:58 PM.  Will that signal the end of winter?  Perhaps not, but the signs of the changing season will be all around us, with the sweet treat of maple syrup, the birds newly garbed in mating splendor, and the sun’s rays getting stronger day by day.   By that time, we will be in the middle of ‘observing a holy Lent’, marking it with intentional disciplines; penitence, prayer, fasting, study and the giving of our wealth to make a difference.  Thus we personally prepare the ‘ground’ for growth and renewal, offered to us, in every season, in the new life in Christ.  Soon, we, with the lover in the Song of Solomon, will rejoice saying “for lo, the winter is past…the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come”. Song of Solomon Chapter 2:11