Winter in the Desert Southwest is a time of waiting.
A time of artificial light and introspection and of finding the answer to that crossword clue.
A time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life again and warm yourself by the fire.
Cold and shortened days are upon us, a layover we wait to get past, while the leaden light hangs heavy upon the horizon.
Stark beauty surrounds the sharp silhouette of the Catclaw trees with clumps of Desert Mistletoe, like a reddish-brown snarl, sitting atop their bald branches.
They released their minuscule leaves to the forceful wind of late autumn, warm wind we didn’t mind much, but now the chill wind of winter blasts our faces and cuts through our clothes and chases us quickly inside.
Winter in the Desert Southwest is just warm enough to remind us of spring and just cold enough to keep us wrapped in blankets longing for the heat of May to hurry up and return.
With the garden now bare and the mornings too cold for a walk, my days are spent thinking of food and the next meal to warm the kitchen by.
Spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli cheese soup, or Mighty Man’s favorite: pot roast, mashed potatoes, and gravy? In between my thoughts, I can’t help but reflect on the speed with which the year has fled.
I sneak a bite of the cheesecake brownies I made yesterday and wonder will my dreams lay dormant forever while I live a life I never chose. Or will I learn to accept where I am and blossom under the hand of God upon me?
Cocooned in gossamer gray
The wood stove, once again, becomes the central meeting place for my family.
Each morning I tighten the sash of my familiar faded robe and lift my teacup off its flat black surface, grateful for the warmth it gives, and breathe in the coveted steam of chamomile, Earl Grey, or gunpowder green.
Gossamer gray clouds blanket the land and cocoon me in my thoughts—from trivial to truthful, things hard to utter.
Where do I need to change?
What will I have to give up,
open my arms to,
wait another year for,
never. have. at. all?
The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. Psalms 145:14–16
The first tap-tapping of rain both stirs and soothes me as it settles to a soft shushing on the rooftop, a steady day-long rhythm echoing what my inward searching longs for—the steady hand of God upon my bowed head, consolation, and assurance that I’m not forgotten.
Enclosed in a lamp-lit room, the windows cry unexpected tears mimicking my own, as I stare out through glass to darkness; waiting.
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalms 27:14
The sweeping arc of midnight stars
The pinpoint stars of the desert sky have pierced the veil that summer wore, else why do they shine their brightest in frigid air alone?
Our eyes gaze in wonder at the wide arc of God’s glory, though our craning necks and shivering call us promptly indoors. But not before we ponder our place in the vastness of space and marvel that God sees each one of us.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Psalms 8:3–4
Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. I Chronicles 29:11
Winter finds us with less to do. With fewer distractions and busyness to call us away, familiar fears crop up.
- sadness we cannot name
- resentment we hate to admit
- loneliness that pervades our lives despite the size of our family or social media following.
There is less doing, and more being, thinking, dwelling. The less light we see, the more inward the searching.
- What do I do in the waiting?
- Why do I feel unrest?
- How do I quell the searching?
As the north wind whips through the tall, dried clumps of last season’s grasses and the surprisingly bright green tufts of winter grass peek between the rocks, I stand in the sunspot that spills through the window and warm my toes on the carpet with eyes closed, and that rapturous ahh reveals what God has promised.
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25–26
God is faithful and true; He also is waiting.
And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. Isaiah 30:18
What are we missing?
Is not the unnamed sadness we feel merely the temporary absence of our Bridegroom? When that stretch of mock spring days won’t dissolve our ache, we realize it is a year-round malady that only Christ’s return can lift.
He has promised to be our light, to be our warmth. He is what we are searching for.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Revelation 21:23
So, my friends, when these cold and dormant days are replaced once again by busyness, green growth, and the warmth of the day-long sun, and the steady blanket of gray dissolves to blue brilliance, we can be assured that it is the warmth of God’s mercy and lovingkindness, and the light of God’s righteous face that will bring us the answers to our longing, the reason for our waiting, and the peace we desperately seek.
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. Isaiah 25:9
Abiding in the Vine,
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The post “We Wait Under Leaden Skies” was first published on Desert Rain.