The Higher Offices of Winter
George H. Morrison
It is always easy to believe that God has made the summer-time. There is something in a perfect summer day that speaks to us of the divine. The beauty which is around us everywhere, the singing of the birds in every tree, the warmth of the pleasant summer sun, the amazing prodigality of life, these, as by filaments invisible, draw our hearts to the Giver of them all and make it easy to say, "Thou hast made the summer." With winter it is different. It is not so easy to see the love of God there. There is a great deal of suffering in winter, both for the animal creation and for man. It may therefore aid the faith of some who may be tempted to doubt the love of God in winter if I suggest some of its spiritual offices.
One of the higher offices of winter is to deepen our appreciation of the summer. We should be blind if summer were perpetual. Someone has said, and very truly said, that our dear ones are only ours when we have lost them. They have to pass away into the silent land before we know them for what they really are. And in like manner summer has to pass, leaving us in the grip of icy winter, before we fully appreciate the summer. It is not the man who lives in bonnie Scotland who feels most deeply how beautiful Scotland is. It is the exile on some distant shore yearning for the mountains and the glens. It is not the man with rude unbroken health who feels most deeply the value of his health. That is realized when health is shattered. In Caithness, where I lived four years, there is a great scarcity of trees. I never knew how much I loved the trees until I dwelt in a land where there are none. And we never know all that summer means to us in its pageantry of life and beauty until we lose it in the barrenness of winter. Lands that have no winter have no spring. They never know the thrilling of the spring-when the primroses awake and the wild hyacinths and the "livelier iris" changes on the dove. ...
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