This time of the year always fascinates me! The colors are beautiful, and I am still thrilled to drive or walk through falling leaves. Not a big pumpkin spice fan, but I love the play on that aspect of fall. I saw a transmission place suggesting they had pumpkin spice fluid and would replace anyone’s current fluid. Was that an appeal to draw in more female clients since I think those are the ones who are most enamored by pumpkin spice? You can tell me if I’m wrong.

Yesterday I did what I hoped was the last of fall leaf clean up. Of course, there will be more in the spring when the rest of the oak leaves will be down because of the snow and wind through the winter. The yard sight of a clean yard is shocking. I live in the woods, and there are about six weeks when my yard is covered with leaves of various shades of gold and brown. Seeing mostly green is a surprise.

I don’t cut down the dead stems of the perennials because I love how they give me a feeling of hope. Yes, something dead-looking gives me a sense that there will be more. As the dead flowers stand tall above the snow when I am feeling shut in with cabin fever I can look at the dead heads of the flowers and remember. I remember how life was not so long ago. I remember the work and the sore knees and relax in the comfort of a chair by the fire. I see birds picking at the last of the seeds to fill their hungry tummies.

In northern Indiana, the winters are black and white. Snow and tree trunks are about all that we see. The brown of the dead plants adds a sepia or nostalgia to the mix because buried beneath the snow are the roots of hope. The hope that everything will be green and colorful again. Yet!

When the first bloom of the crocus starts to show its color or the buds on the early blooming bushes begin to swell with life, I am always taken by surprise. I forget that the hope of spring is still alive even when dormant. When the snow melts and reveals the last of the oak leaves on the ground, the grass stays brown for a while, but the flowerbeds start to teem with colors.

All of this is not something any gardener in the north doesn’t know, but there is a more in-depth story to reflect on. If you are a gardener and not a winter sports fan, you know the hopelessness that can creep into your heart in January or February. There is a syndrome that causes depression during the gray and dismal months of the year when we feel lucky to see the sun, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. (I actually think we should be thankful that it’s sunshineless because the sun on the snow is blinding!)

Lying within us is the promise of a new life. Our spirit lies dormant within us, waiting. Within that new life is the potential to become fully alive and to live our truest self, the ability to live authentically. It’s all there waiting to be brought to life. The roots of our true self reach down to our soul. Our soul needs to be revived as the plants need the lightning and storms to become filled with nitrogen and life. Maybe you have been experiencing storme in your life. Storms can be frightening but also lead to growth

What can bring our dormant spirits or souls to life? Like a Light in our darkness, it is the one who created light in the first place. It is the one who created us with a soul and spirit that longs to connect with their creator. We may numb our longing with many things, even good things like gardening or winter sports or addictions or activities, but they are just snow on a promise of hope.

Sincere hope exists with real possibility. Our DNA remembers what we have forgotten or maybe never knew. It remembers we are made for more than dreary days and closed in spaces. We need to step back, so we are not blinded by the showy brightness of the world. If you can get in touch with your soul during the sad or lonely days of your life, you will find a sense of creativity, peace, and a desire to worship. Solitude is “the quiet place where we hear again themes that have long been forgotten. We hear the familiar words of reassurance. Those good, but neglected areas of spirituality resurface.”

Get a journal and write down your thoughts this winter. Let them take root in your soul and allow old hurts to be healed as you journal about them. Sometimes putting our hurts in black and white takes the sting out. If not, try a colored pen! But to truly rid yourself of those hurts you will need to take them to the only one who can heal, and that is the One who will restore your soul. That is Jesus Christ, who created all things including you.You are a miracle with a vital role to play in this “Bigger Story: called life.

If you have not heard about Jesus except as a slang word or with negative connotations, refresh your thoughts. Revival and restoration of your soul will only come from the one who created your soul. He will take you to your truest self and restore your relationship to it and to Him.

Winter is near, but it doesn’t have to be a time of death and darkness. It can be a time of rediscovering hope and life!