What if our winter is not wintery?
Toasty though it may be for those of you in the northern hemisphere, right now, the months of June, July and August are technically ‘winter’, down here in Australia. Winters in Sydney, where I live now, though, are nothing like winters in Montreal and Toronto, where I grew up, or even Philadelphia, where I spent my early adulthood. Those winters – ‘real’ winters! – were quite cold and, if we were lucky (unlucky?), lush with snow. Temperatures in Sydney have apparently never, in recorded history, dropped below freezing, although they’ve gotten awfully close, in my decade here! At any rate, we don’t get any snow – for better and for worse.
There are definitely perks to having such relatively mild winters. On a nice, sunny winter’s day, it can be warm enough to wear shorts and t-shirts, especially while engaged in physical activity in the sunshine. It tends to be chilly in the shade, but I can eat lunch outdoors, if I’m sitting in the sun, out of the wind.
Nice though that is, I sometimes wonder whether we’re missing out on something – not just in regards to the aesthetics of snow or the fun we can have with it, but extending into the correspondence realm. Earlier this year I wrote about our individual perception of environmental stimuli, like heat & cold, and their correspondences to love and the lack thereof. I’ve since come across an article in a New Church Canadian from a few years back which extolled the benefits of winter, the hush and beauty of the pure, new snow. In it Rev. Jared Buss observed that
“Winter is a time for waiting, and for stillness; it represents a state of spiritual cold, a state of darkness, but it also illustrates for us how the mercy of the Lord is with us even in these states. He is with us, waiting for us to wake up, to warm up to His life. ‘Snow signifies natural truth, which is like snow when it is in the memory only; but it is made spiritual by love, as snow is made rainwater by heat.’ (Apocalypse Explained 644.13)”
(Jared Buss article in New Church Canadian, Issue 183, Jan/Feb 2018)
He also mentions that “a state of joy – a state of morning and springtime – will not remain joyful if it goes on forever without changing (see Heaven & Hell 155, 158)”.
So….. Are we inhibited, deprived of this spiritual renewal if our natural winter isn’t very wintery? I know that he’s talking about winter-like states in our lives, in our minds, and an awakening to spiritual realities; I get that. But is there a connection to the natural world around us? Do folks in colder climes have greater opportunity to experience a springlike state of joy than those of us in milder climates? Or is it at all possible that those who live in milder climates are there at a time in their lives – even all their lives, if that be the case – when they are already at a level of joy and spiritual existence that they don’t need the harsh winter stimuli to help them move through the motions? Or maybe they need to work on it at a different level: maybe they need to recognise the need to open their minds through different channels, to recognise that they need to work differently in the absence of snow & subsequent springtime? Or maybe some of these people have a simpler, more innocent mindset and can’t handle the harsh requirement of awakening after a brutal spiritual winter. ….Maybe?
On the flip side, Rev. Buss also said that “winter remains, on the whole, a representation of something that is not good”. Oooh! Maybe this means that those of us who experience unwintery winters are blessed with less ‘not-goodness’ in our lives? We read in True Christianity 392 that, “Just as everything on earth blossoms when heat and light are united on earth, so everything in the human mind blossoms when heat and light are united in it.” While Sydney does have cooler and warmer times of year, nevertheless things do grow year-round, some flowers do blossom in wintertime, which indicates that heat and light are united sufficiently for that to take place. So maybe, similarly, those of us living down here are in a time in our lives when we have enough good and truth in our minds that resulting fruit can ‘blossom’ in us without major wintery interruption….?
I’ll concede that it’s all a bit of a stretch, and I may be jumping to conclusions that just don’t fit because I’m relating natural stuff to spiritual stuff, comparing apples to oranges…. but I do think that there’s more connection between the realms than we usually give credit for; the physical and spiritual realms are, after all, inextricably linked! Our puny brains – of which we’re only said to use 10% (although that’s apparently a myth!) – can’t quite grasp the intricacies and magnitude of all that; it just isn’t within our capacity while we’re living in our natural minds, here on Earth, I reckon. But wow……… What a concept, what a cool discovery to look forward to on the other side, eh?!