My favorite walk these days takes me across an open swath of land to a road that meanders through a lovely, mostly deciduous woods to a pond. Each day the walk is different—as seasons change, light raises and lowers, birds migrate, frogs come and go, leaves appear and disappear.
At the moment, the leaves have mostly disappeared. I love the trees in the spring when they put out their pink and white buds, in the summer when their green foliage offers much-needed shade and shelter for nesting birds, and in the fall when the leaves turn spectacularly auburn and yellow. But I especially love the trees as they are now: bare.
The trees are not dead, of course. But they are dormant. The life that is in them is stiller than in other seasons, harder to see with our eyes. At the same time, the patterns of the trees’ trunks, branches, and crowns are more readily visible. The very absence of leaves allows me to see more deeply into the woods and to observe more closely the topography of land. It is as though the trees have let go of what was important last season. The low winter sun plays off of their winter colors—grays, browns, and blacks—in subtle but beautiful ways.
The bareness of the trees makes me wonder: What might I shed this season? What might I see more clearly if I released something that, important as it might have been in another season, is not what I need now. How would winter light play off me if I lived more quietly, more simply?
O, Most Amazing God, Changer of Seasons, I give you thanks for the beauty of winter trees. May I learn to stand before You the way they do in winter, unadorned and unassuming. And may I learn to wait in your presence as they seem to wait: patient, serene, and full of quiet hope.