On Winter Rest and the Imitation of God

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
~Ecclesiastes 3:1

“To everything – turn, turn, turn;
There is a season – turn, turn, turn;
And a time for every purpose under heaven.”
~The Byrds

The frost of an Ozark winter has set in. In the mornings, the frigid sheen of colder nights blankets grass and cars alike. It is a thinner frost this January–the temperatures being more temperate across these hills than in years past–but it is frost nonetheless. This sheen washes the color from the mountain pallet, leaves a nostalgic impression as nature’s white contrasts against the black and gray of the early morning sky. Some may say that winter is the bleakest season, but there’s beauty here if you’re willing to find it.

All of nature is still here. The mole in my front yard has ceased his tunneling, stopped somewhere between the two mounds of rich black dirt pushed up twenty feet from my door. Come spring, I’ll need ideas to rid my yard of the pest (anyone?), but for now, he and I both rest.

The birds have all flown the coop, and they have left the leafless oaks still and quiet. The oaks stretch exhibitionist arms upward, spines straight but still in a posture of rest. The butterfly and moth larva have burrowed deep into the warm earth under these oaks, and the king snake rests in his den under the warmer, lower layers of the compost pile.

All nature is at rest here, all nature–that is–except the squirrels. If God made a single animal with boundless energy, with an inbred inability to cease striving, it is the squirrel. They spring from branch to branch, drop down to the ground looking for opening pecan husks. Even still, they are gathering, hoarding. I consider their dens, the liberality of their nut stores, and I wonder whether God chuckles at the busybodies of creation.

In six days, God created all these things. On the seventh day, he rested. It was his Sabbath, his winter holiday. He created this rhythmic calendar, the seasons that speak to nature’s need for Sabbath. (All nature save and except the squirrels, that is.) And creative as he was, he breathed life into the dormant dust of nature–this nature which itself rests–and created man. Yes, we are made from material that needs a fallow season.

“Cease striving,” he says, “and know that I am God.”

 

*****

In this month’s Tiny Letter (my monthly newsletter), I’m discussing the idea of resting  within church practices. There, I’m speaking candidly about some recent changes in the Haines’ household, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Sign up to read along!

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  • Thanks Seth, I needed this today. Been forced to rest this week due to sickness, and I’ve been feeling a bit guilty.

    • sethhaines

      Guilty?!? I think you should binge watch Netflix, and read too much Bukowski, and not feel guilty.

      And in all sincerity, get well soon.

      • Hah! Actually I have been watching a bit of Netflix 🙂

  • Jerry

    The hope of a new season is sometimes all I hang onto…with fingertips. Turn, baby, turn. Does anybody know what time it is? It has been a season of self revelation…I don’t like what I see, but things have to change to affect change of season. Leaves fall, seeds die in the dark to spring up new life. Ah, Solomon, what a strange brew. Thanks Seth

    • sethhaines

      “Seeds die in the dark to spring up…” I think a famous teacher said that once.
      Peace in your self-revelation, Jerry. Enjoy Solomon and the Byrds.

  • pastordt

    Beautiful, like a reverie. Thank you.