I do love poems by Christina Rossetti. I suspect we would have gotten along nicely.
I especially love this one, also performed as a piece of Christmas music.
I resonate with that first line. ‘In the bleak mid-winter…’ This is because I love bleak weather. In fact, we in the Southeast are still recovering from a remarkable December snowstorm. While we often dream of a white Christmas, this was more than we wanted in many places. Still, bleak weather, stormy weather, dark and cold weather, wet weather, these I find compelling.
As a child I loved the snow and cold of winter. I can recall, so clearly, the crunch of ice beneath my boots as I trudged home from sledding, the January sky dark, spitting sleet or snow. I would break the ice on the driveway and shovel ice and snow. I would fantasize about rescuing people trapped in the grasp of the season I loved.
I also loved the howling wind and bursting, blasting storm of Appalachian summer, charged with ozone and the threat of tornado. I would sit with family and watch the trees bend to nearly breaking, the wind sideways driven before our eyes. I would stand, afterwards, beside the small creek behind my grandmother’s house and watch it rise to deadly river in a few hours. The danger, the uncertainty, the darkness and threat all poetry to my child’s heart.
An adult now, I love these things for different reasons. In no small part because weather sometimes leaves my ER quiet as others (less enamored of foul skies and hard winds) stay home. If they’re home they aren’t on the roads in danger. And they aren’t coming to me for every problem, large or small. Some days there is quiet in the emergency department. Bad weather is as good a bet as any.
Maybe it’s also the recollection of my wife and children and I, gathered up beneath blankets by the fireplace, power flickering, walls shaking as winter marched past; Summer’s peaceful, sultry oven a miserable thing of the past (for a while) as my people were all gathered around me in a safe, warm place.
Is it genetic? Maybe it’s that my Anglo-Saxon name, Keith Edwin, coupled with snow and cold, reminds my Anglo-Saxon DNA to wake up it’s memory of bleak mid-winters in the old world, where at least winter kept raids and war at bay, even as it invited wolves, disease and hunger.
Who knows. All I know is that ‘in the Bleak Mid-Winter,’ I’m happy even when I’m cold. I don’t mind the ice on my truck, or the potential danger of slick roads.
I think, most of all, it’s about balance. Cold is grand when one gets warm. Dry makes wet tolerable and wet makes dry more treasured. And as people like me celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, on dark, bleak, endlessly cold nights, it seems that the event was meant to make a point. The point that light seems to shine much more brightly for the contrast. That God, in a world so often bereft of love and hope, is offering us a window into a brighter future because we have seen the darker past.
Not everyone likes Winter. I get it. But give me the bleak mid-Winter, the stormy summer, any day of the week.
In bad weather, ‘the light shines in the darkness’ even more clearly.
Thank you Mrs. Rosetti. You get me.
And you get it.