Have you ever thought it odd that a new year and new beginnings start in the middle of winter when all seems dead and barren? Of course it may seem just as out of place if a new year began in the middle of summer in the midst of a season of intense growth and fruit settings. But why not start a new year in spring when all seems new and the earth begins to recycle itself while new life begins to emerge from everywhere?
I know that different countries and different nations at different times in history have begun the new year at various times and seasons – often in the spring, and I don’t claim to know all of the history behind our tradition of beginning a new year on January 1 of the Gregorian calendar, but whatever the reason, we begin a new year in the dead of winter. So it is here, when all seems dead and barren, in this season of rest that new beginnings emerge. I think it is appropriate.
There are seasons to all things including our lives, and we may experience many seasons over the course of a lifetime, but it is often in the barren seasons of our lives that new beginnings take root. It is during winter, during seasons of grief, loneliness, discouragement, or heartache that our character is tested and it is during winter that the heart matures and grows stronger and wiser.
At a time when all is winter, lifeless and asleep, the deepest work is done in the heart; it is when restoration begins. Long before the first buds of spring begin to appear, there is a stirring deep. It may be a gentle stirring, vague and unformed, moving very little in-between long periods of deep rest within the quiet stillness of winter, but it is there – the stirring of spring, of new life, new ideas, new beginnings, and new hope. It is in winter that new beginnings are conceived and they grow within the quiet cold.