• JanetJoanouWeiner

Beauty in the Bleak Midwinter

When I reflect on the beauty of the seasons, I usually picture the soft bright colors of spring or the brilliant tones of autumn. Yet winter brings us a different sort of loveliness. A bit more subtle, perhaps, but even more enjoyable for the element of surprise.



It requires slowing down and taking a moment to notice. When I go on my daily walks, I’m often preoccupied with the thoughts and concerns of the day. And currently, with temperatures dipping low–for this southern California girl anyway–I’m usually concentrating on wrapping my scarf higher and more snugly around my neck, pulling on gloves, and moving along rapidly against the chill. But, when I finally settle, take some deep breaths and tune in, there is always beauty to behold.



Barren branches create stark silhouettes, contrasting perfectly with pewter skies. The sometimes icy landscape highlights textural patterns. Winter beauty makes my heart sing and reminds me of the love and goodness of the Creator God of it all.


Pops of color delight me, even as I enjoy the muted atmosphere. Often tiny, almost hidden, they are even more beautiful for the contrast they bring.


Winter fruits and vegetables, arriving just in time for Christmas, are another treat. Our open market “bio” (organic) stand boasts incredibly colorful cauliflower, which the vendor assures me is how they grew initially. Someone somewhere decided cauliflower needed to be white (why???), and they bred it to be so. I’m happy our local farmers are bringing back the original version.



Citrus fruits are one of my favorite winter treats, especially the “clémentines.” We eat them often, declaring they are “better than candy!” Wafts of their bright scent fill the air through our open market. I love the look of the ones with green leaves still attached, a brilliant contrast against the vivid orange fruit. How clever of our God to provide these delicious sources of vitamin C just when we need it most.



I’m so glad we celebrate Jesus’ birthday in winter. While his birth was likely in the spring, we need the reminder that he is Emmanuel, God with us, much more this time of year. He is indeed the light that overcomes the darkness.


There are so many ways and traditions to celebrate Christmas. My mother created memorable holidays through decorations, food, and various traditions that I treasure. I attempted to do the same with our children. Although they are now grown, my husband and I carry on with many of them. There’s a simple joy in the yearly delight of these time-honored activities. I believe we’re made to enjoy cycles and repetitions. As it is with the seasons, they are familiar and yet new each time. We need both.


Here in France, the Christmas markets are full of handmade goodies, and the scent of mulled wine fills the air. Mmmmm….


The Catholic church displays the nativity scene in a side nook. Every year, it’s slightly different, which adds a lovely element of discovery, even in something familiar.



Many towns in France, including ours, choose blue and white decorations. They are pretty, although different from the traditional (at least for me!) red and green. I’ve been in Thailand and Cambodia this time of year, and their decorations run to purple and other bright colors. Why not?



One of my favorite Christmas carols is “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Here are the first two verses:

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan;

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain,

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign:

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty —

Jesus Christ.

I love how the second verse refers to the humble birth and the triumphant return of Jesus, when “heaven and earth shall flee away.” Seldom is this complete picture referred to in a Christmas carol. It is now more pertinent than ever.


The last verse moves me every time:


What can I give Him,

Poor as I am? —

If I were a Shepherd

I would bring a lamb;

If I were a Wise Man

I would do my part, —

Yet what I can I give Him, —

Give my heart.


Blessings to you all as you enjoy this season of the light that came alive in the darkness.

La vie est belle!

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