December 2, 2015: The Humility of Winter—The Humility of Christmas

~by Virginia Rhys Anson, OFS


Hidden within the façade of winter’s death, life incubates, awaiting its release in spring. Yet Winter holds its secret, not spouting with haughty accolades. In spring, it will share the magnificence of its beauty; its kaleidoscope of colors and shapes; its foliage decked in tranquil shades of green; its birth of fawns, eaglets, and tadpoles. Spring unveils Winter’s hidden treasures for all to see, not with ego stroking pride, but with humility that seeks satisfaction in merely knowing that its gift was received. Winter, arrayed in humble dormancy, holds life within its drab attire. Life harbored within to birth again in spring.

Yet, Winter gives no a hint of the bounty that it is preparing for humankind. It trumpets not the grandness of its feat. As a parent performs acts of love unseen, relishing only in the growth of the child, so, too, Winter grows its life in quiet assurance. It seeks no fanfare, no grandiose acclaim.

So true is Winter’s humility that it eases ever so gradually from Fall’s vibrant color and crisp chill. Back and forth Fall and Winter play their weatherly tug-o’-war until, ultimately, Winter triumphs, only to recede into the shadows of human favor, possibly the least relished of the four seasons. Yet such is winter’s preference, being quite content to pave the path toward Spring’s cotillion. The parent season relishing in the accomplishment of its child, Spring

The season of repose guards its mystery well. Bears hibernate ‘neath snow’s crusty layer. And sow births her cubs while winter’s sleep ensues. Lake fish paddle up and around, encased beneath inches of ice. Birds and butterflies migrate south to warmer climes, seemingly dead to northern eyes. Flowers display their naked stems, colorful blooms a mere summer memory. Trees, with branches now leafless, appear to succumb to death’s chilly grip, their buds concealed in embryonic growth.

The humility of Winter. Its meekness prefigures that of the very first Christmas. The lowliness of a babe laid in an animal’s dish. A precious babe, so weak, so helpless. The Creator King who required care and protection, completely dependent upon His creatures, parents carefully chosen for this most cherished, yet most daunting, privilege—the rearing of God’s own Son.

The babe who would save humankind was born without a home of His own, born in a humble animal’s stable. His meager shelter, a dwelling that housed beasts of burden whose purpose was to serve humankind. This babe, Who was now served by His parents, would grow to be Creator-servant, the God-man who would teach humans how to love through service. The God-man who would serve consummately by dying on a cross at the hands of His creatures. The God-man who could easily have saved Himself from this most horrendous of deaths.

Not unlike the nakedness of Winter—nature defrocked of her trappings–within the fragile body of the Babe of Bethlehem, the Creator of the Universe deigned to mingle with the mortals that He loved into existence, becoming one with them. This infinitely awesome God, so great that He is unfathomable to the simple human mind, entered the human realm condensed and sheltered within the tiny, unclothed body of a baby, only swaddle for His garment.

The Savior of all humanity was born into the world without pretentious fanfare, far from the elegance of the most regal palace. He greatly humbled Himself, taking on the form of the creatures that He sculpted in the palm of His hands. God loves so dearly, so intensely, that He desires to share, no immerse Himself, in the lives of lowly, sinful human beings.

Just as Winter grows life in its desolate garb, so the God of the Universe grew His love and His salvific act in the person of a mortal man—the immortal taking on mortality. His love and plan for the salvation of the human race lay secure within the soul of God’s Son, cocooned in a human frame, to be revealed in the spring of His journey—His Resurrection from death.

Yet the Son did not shout His identity, did not demand the ceremony of renowned kingship that the God Who created all of life deserves. He matured in the eyes of those around Him from a simple boy into a simple man. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” To only the chosen few did He reveal the God encased within. Such is the true humility of God.

Thus Winter, in its own modest way, parallels the humility of the first Christmas. The life secretly incubating within Winter’s seeming death parallels the God hidden within the Babe of Bethlehem. The secret life of Winter that bursts into new birth in the splendor of spring parallels the Resurrection of the Babe of Bethlehem into a glorified body, the God-man who won back God’s favor for the creatures whom He loves so completely.

Winter incubating the physical food of spring. Jesus incubating the spiritual food of true life—the Eucharist.

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Virginia Anson grew up in the shadows of Sandia Crest in New Mexico. Family camping trips may have sparked her passion for nature. She holds an A.S. in Electronics Technology, a B.A. in Writing, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and a certificate in Wildlife/Forestry Conservation. Her book, Mother Earth’s Caretakers, targets middle school youngsters and is published as an e-book for Kindle. Virginia is a Vietnam Era veteran of the U.S. Air Force, and her volunteer endeavors see her as a lector, Eucharistic minister, and sacristan in her parish and as a habitat steward for the National Wildlife Federation. She especially cherishes her life in the Secular Franciscan Order, following in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.

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