Winter reveals. It exposes.
Leaves fall and there is nothing left to conceal. We get to see the inner workings of all the trees we share space with. Things so rare and precious during the covered months are suddenly revealed and set on display – nests of all shapes and sizes.
And somehow this seeming barrenness always gives me a deep sense of the new. Things to come – knowing that one must shed their clothes in order to try on new ones. So the trees around us whirl and churn inside, being changed from the inside out.
I’m always dazzled by a spotted birds nest in a tree. But the other day I was stopped dead in my tracks by something I had never see before – a hornets nest as large as a summer watermelon in the very center of a tree along my path. Instead of wonder, I was caught off guard by a feeling of fear. I knew that I had nothing to be frightened of, it’s winter and this nest has been long dormant, but I couldn’t shake this strange feeling of being decieved. I had walked by this tree for months and months without knowing what was hiding inside – wild and dangerous it had been safely sheltered, but in the exposing light of winter it could hide no longer.
It makes me think of my own hornets nest of a heart. Roiling and broiling inside with all kinds of emotions, worries, anxieties, bitterness, sin…. I try my best to hide it, but it’s there – fearsome to behold sometimes. But instead of recoiling in shock and fear, Jesus sees my exposed hornets nest and says he’ll do me one better. “How about a different kind of nest. How about a home for me?”
“Yes, please,” I say. Make me new.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
“He who is our very life came down and took our death upon himself. He slew our death by his abundant life and summoned us in a voice of thunder to return to him in his hidden place, that place from which he set out to come to us when first he entered the Virgin’s womb. There our human creature, mortal flesh, was wedded to him that it might not remain mortal for ever; and from there he came forth like a bridegroom from his nuptial chamber, leaping with joy like a giant to run his course. Impatient of delay he ran, shouting by his words, his deeds, his death and his life, his descent to hell and his ascension to heaven, shouting his demand that we return to him. Then he withdrew from our sight, so that we might return to our own hearts and find him there. He withdrew, yet look, here he is. It is not his will to remain with us, yet he has not abandoned us either; for he has gone back to that place which he never left, because the world was made through him, and though he was in this world he had made he came into it to save sinners.
Saint Augustine, The Confessions, Bk iv