intertime, with its dreary skies, cold northerly winds, and monochromatic scheme, usually induces the doldrums in me. Living in the Northern Hemisphere, I long for the month of May with its lush and fragrant gifts of spring as I view the drab landscape around me. I see carpets of brown matted-down grass and forests of brown naked trees with twisted brown branches.
This past winter the brown scheme was fast becoming passé when my sister-in-law announced her engagement. With that came the wish of creating a vignette of an ethereal winter wonderland as her wedding theme, by using tall tree branches illuminated by white uplights. Thus the search for perfect tree branches ensued.
Suddenly, my perspective changed. “Oh, wow!” I exclaimed, as I looked all around me. “That is a beautiful branch! I want that one—it’s perfect!”
As I focused on the naked trees with their brown twisted branches, they ceased to exist. They became specimens of art with a world of possibilities: I saw and heard wisps of silver strands swaying and strumming a serenade as the north wind blew. A glistening curtain of birch enthralled me as I gazed at the moon through a screen of delicate branches. I caught my breath as I witnessed, in the eastern horizon, a row of paintbrushes standing still in the quiet early morning, waiting to splash the sky’s gray canvas with the lavender, pink, and orange hues of the early dawn.
As I beheld the beauty that surrounded me, I reflected on God’s eminent presence in my life. As an artist tempers paints with the proper mixture of oil to bring them to their perfect texture and consistency, He tempers my soul with the oil of the Holy Spirit and creates a medium for beauty in the most unlikely circumstances.
A recent encounter with my teen daughter is a testimony to this truth. The words I hurled at her were ugly and frightful, and I cringed as I realized my tongue had just broken the spirit of my beloved child. Her slender frame slumped, and tears welled in her eyes as she retreated to her room. Moments before, an acutely stressful incident had transpired that soured my spirits and heightened my insensitivity. Tragically, anyone in close proximity became an innocent target. Oh Lord, what did I just do? Filled with remorse, I entered my daughter’s room and begged for her forgiveness.
It was as if a butterfly flittered on my face as her delicate fingers touched my cheeks. “It’s OK, Mommy. I love you,” she whispered, her eyes still filled with tears. I wept as I enveloped her in my arms and we knelt together to pray. God gave me a gift of beauty—a beautiful child with a forgiving heart—freely given, though undeserved. But the greatest gift of all was His forgiveness; He eased my pitiable spirit as He allowed me to shepherd my child’s heart back to mine.
Now wintertime offers a spectrum of colors to me as I view what Jesus has done for me. I see bursts of vibrant reds and brilliant oranges where He has so miraculously interceded; calming greens and cooling blues where He has comforted and healed; silver and gold where out of my mistakes He has given grace and brought success. He placed meaning and purpose in my life. I am His work of art with a world of possibilities. For what is the color brown but beautiful colors infused together?
Wintertime tells a story of love and second chances. Regardless of how empty and meaningless I have made my life’s canvas, the Artist of my life is fervently waiting to color me beautiful with the hues of joy, love, and grace of the early dawn. White lights of forgiveness illuminate me. It is a new day; a season of second chances.
The hope of spring is just around the corner. And my hope springs to everlasting as the Lover of my soul views the twisted dull branches of my life, and I hear Him say, “Oh, wow! She’s beautiful! I want that one; she’s perfect!”
Gemma Cabardo Anderson, a home schooling mother of two children, is a freelance journalist.