In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (pretty much my favourite play), Leonato of Messina remarks to his Beatrice – who resists the idea of being paired with Signor Benedick – “you will never run made, niece”. To which she replies, “No, not till a hot January.” (Act 1, Scene 1)
It’s a delicious irony as before the play is through she does run mad (with love for Benedick). Another part of her statement strikes me as amusing, since in South Africa, it would be rare not to have a hot January.
While the weather is warming in northern Europe, on the toe of Africa, it’s getting colder.
Winter approaches. We do indeed have a hot January but a freezing June thanks to a 23-degree tilt of the planet as it orbits around the sun.
The late Myles Munroe, a preacher from the Bahamas, once related to his audience the lack of logic shown by some Christians, who in the midst of a cold snap opted to rebuke the frost – in the name of Jesus – when it was clearly obvious that frost had a right to be present, being a part of winter’s arsenal.
I recently came across a poem by Christina Rosetti. It was used by Chris Tomlin in the lyrics for a song about Christmas:
“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago…
… What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”
The idea of the wind moaning evokes for me Paul’s letter to the Romans where he talks of all creation groaning.
In the midst of Winter and cold, we wait for the redemption of our bodies, and creation waits for that redemption too, as keenly as we await Spring and the thaw that takes place on the way to Summer.
Most of us don’t like Winter and I’m certainly not going to try convince you otherwise. But it is God’s will for there to be seasons and cold, seemingly with all the difficulties attended to that: colds, flu, worse traffic.
There is an interesting side to winter:
It provides a picture of the cleanness of snow and a landscape that has been washed white with forgiveness.
The cold of snow is a reminder of the value of being rebuked from time to time.
The woman whose household is prepared for winter where everyone is kitted out for the cold offers an illustration of value of mothers to a family.
Winter is fascinating for the records that it sets or breaks:
The average Winter temperature for Cape Town seems to hover around the 15-degree mark however when we compare that with the temperature recorded at a Russian research station in Antarctica in 1983: -89.2 degrees. So cold that if you needed an electric device to heat up your room, you could leave the freezer door open.
The temperatures in Russia itself are slightly warmer; The remote village of Oymyakon averages temperatures on the order of -50 degrees.
According to the authorities at Guinness World Records, the largest snowflakes ever recorded measured a width in excess of the length of a typical ruler here in South Africa.
Winter is a time when I look at the power of nature as God created it. Nature can simply sweep us aside in a random storm. It puts into perspective for me the One who created it.