. . . and greens, pinks, yellows, teals, grays, violets, burgundies . . . . and so many more!
“You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” –Luke 12:56
Living in New England, it’s rare to get through the day without discussing the weather, especially this time of year. We are amazed at the ”unusual” frigid temperatures or overcome with stress due to the abundance of snow. Sometimes we are taken back by a “freak” warm spell or very worried about the lack of precipitation. Perhaps we are given these radical weather changes just to help initiate conversation up here in the great Northeast.
I often get strange looks when I confess my love for the winter months. I don’t particularly care for getting out and dealing with the snow and the cold, but I enjoy looking at it. I especially enjoy gazing at the beautiful scenes performed outside my studio window. How beautiful to see the deep red cardinals fluttering around
the bird feeder with a crisp, white backdrop of snow covered bushes. Seeing the sun peer through snow-covered trees in the early hours of the day, takes my breath away. Even when snow is absent, there’s a beauty in the earth that surrounds me. I see it as a stillness and a sort of waiting period. As we quiet our minds and limit our indulgences during the Lenten weeks, the Earth has a time of clearing the way for beautiful changes coming soon, or so it seems to me.
The best part of winter has to do with the opportunity to more fully embrace God’s gifts to me. I love to quilt and write all year, but during the winter months, I feel a little more freedom to completely immerse myself in projects. There are fewer distractions calling me out. During the spring and summer months, more than once someone will question how I can possibly sew on a beautiful day, as if it’s a sacrilege to do so. I usually respond by saying, I am able sew on a nice day just as a nurse goes to her job in the hospital or just as a lawyer goes to the office. Sewing is what I am called to do! In the midst of ten-degree temperatures, no one ever questions why I’m staying indoors to sew.
I did a little research this morning on “Overcoming the Winter Blues.” All of the articles I read had similar advice: get plenty of exercise, eat balanced meals, take a multivitamin,
and expose yourself to more light. While this is all sound advice, I would like to add, use your God-given gifts abundantly and be a little creative every day. Get out some crayons, paint a picture, start a scrapbook, write a letter, dust off that old guitar, read poetry, bake a cake, or do anything that moves your spirit in a positive way. You will be amazed at how good you feel after just a few minutes of creativity.
There have been numerous studies about how creative activities improve your health and your mood. Psychologist Robert Maurer, who has studied the benefits of crafting, says cheering up and chilling out are only the beginning. “Crafting can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and even improve sleep. Your breathing takes on a regular pattern, which shuts down the body’s anxiety-producing fight-or-flight response.” [from This is Your Brain on Crafts, Martha Stewart Living magazine, October 2012].
In the same article, Dr. Maurer explains the further benefits of giving “your creation to
others” or doing for others. Scientifically speaking, doing for others releases “happiness-producing” hormones. I believe this because I have experienced it. It makes perfect sense to know God would want us to truly feel good as a reward for helping others.
There have been a number of reports, as well, on the affects on our health due to less day light during the winter months. I realize for some this can be a serious problem. For most of us, though, it’s mostly an inconvenience which does affect our mood. It’s dark when we go to work and then dark when we
come home. Our energy level is lower because the sunlight has magical energy boosting powers. It simply feels good to be surrounded by sunlight. When we feel good, we do good. When we are mostly in the dark, it is more difficult to muster up the energy for anything beyond the must-do daily tasks.
Why not look for the true light during these cold days? God calls us to shine His light through our good works. Go out and
be a beacon to someone who has a difficult time in the winter. Give him or her a handmade gift! Do it today – - – in the present!