By Sister Barbara Jean “B.J.” Franklin, ASC

When the cold and snow of February proved that winter was not really over, we faced the things we don’t like about winter: bone-chilling cold, hazardous driving conditions, cabin fever, indoor routines.

The avid gardeners among us have been poring over seed catalogs and the dog-eared pages give testament to the heart’s never-ending longing for Spring. But it’s winter here in the Midwest and we may as well appreciate the gifts that it brings.


Among my favorites are:

  • Bare trees that speak of letting go, nourishing Earth for future growth, lacing the horizon in intricate dark webs, surprising us with their beautiful shapes. Bare trees call forth an honesty that eschews masks and embraces vulnerability.
  • Sunsets that paint the horizon in streamers of amber, magenta and periwinkle, colors we miss in the other seasons. Winter sunsets bring a comforting end to the short days and their speedy disappearance reminds us to capture each precious moment.
  • Crisp, starry night skies that possess a magnetism that helps us overcome our reluctance to venture out. Winter skies hold many points of light, offering a sense of hope that pierces the darkness that can weigh down our lives.
  • Afghans, throw blankets (whatever you wrap up in) that warm us on chilly nights as we enjoy the books we were too busy to read in the summer. Many times these covers are thoughtful, creative gifts of family and friends whose warmth so enriches our lives.


Experiencing the gifts of winter requires knowing that darkness and cold are invitations to reflect and be grateful, even as tulips and daffodils inch through the soil as if to say, Spring is on the way.

We ask for the same boldness and challenge each other to embrace the promise that the present holds out to us.

Don’t miss it!