Nature has a sublime, often stunning, approach to renewing herself. These days of sub-zero temperatures and wind-blown snow, hill and vale covered in a white blanket gently peppered with those indomitably strong evergreen trees. The earth is sleeping, quiet and calm.

We, on the other hand, often find several things swirling around in our brains during these days. Simply put—death and taxes. We no sooner finish cleaning the house of all the residual glitter of Christmas decorations, managing to rearrange the storage area to refit every last one when, behold, it’s tax time and we are genuinely reintroduced to the staggering vision of the material world and its complex demands. Well, yes, we must “render to Caesar,” but, for this writing, I would like to return to the uncontaminated and unrelenting picture of the winter outside and the warm thoughts we may want to conjure up in our hearts through thoughtful, reflective, prayerful ponderings about our life while we sit inside.

Lent won’t begin for another month, so I am not going to focus on prayer, penance, and almsgiving. Later for that. Rather, I’m encouraging you to take time to pause. Appreciate this unique opportunity we have living in our part of the world for powerful introspection that like the seed buried deep within the earth—under mounds of snow—can and will produce abundance in the springtime sun and rain. This is an exceptionally difficult winter for so many of us, with extraordinary cold and more robust than ever winds, snow piled high in mounds many of us have not seen in these parts for years, fuel shortages and costs increases that boggle the mind. Nevertheless, I have heard in almost every part of the nineteen counties of west central Wisconsin, that while it may be brutal, we are “up to it;” hearty enough to endure it and poetic enough to appreciate it.

I’d like to think our winter hibernation could also provide us with an essential time for hunkering down deep into our own minds and hearts. Certainly being confined indoors can lead to “cabin fever,” that’s a fact of life; but, it can also provide opportunities—golden opportunities that may never again present themselves—to pick up a book, write a letter, listen to some favorite music, or simply ponder the status of one’s life beyond the fretful veneer of New Year’s Day. Make this a time to effectively create some genuine resolutions. Take time to daydream, reinvent yourself in silence and prayerful purpose. There is no “reason” to do this (mandatory New Year’s resolution time has come and gone—Lent is still a month away) other than the fact that you can’t, or really don’t want to go outside. Yes, as terrifying as it may seem, you really should spend some time with yourself. Use the blissful stillness of winter to establish some serenity and silence within yourself.

Make time for prayer and allow God to visit with you in that quiet voice He uses when He speaks clearly to a soul prompted to listen. Time spent in such reverie can warm the heart and stir the soul on even the most bone-chilling of winter’s days and provide great fruit for an authentic springtime of life.

See you at Sunday Mass.