Writings of a Beholder 🌿 1.27.23
The beauty of red in winter
Photo by Patrice Bouchard on Unsplash
Weekly writings of a beholder 🌿
The beauty of red in winter
I sit comfortably atop my bed, a cup of tea steaming beside me, its steamy tendrils gently descending heavenward beckoning me to their comfort. I hold my laptop loosely on my lap, staring at a blank screen when all of the sudden, in the middle of all the gray bleakness of winter, I catch sight of fire flying through the sky.
The flame turns out to be a bright red cardinal who has landed proudly in the tree in our backyard, visible quite clearly through the window in my bedroom from where I sit.
I allow myself to be pleasantly distracted by this sudden change in scenery. The gray, cold bleakness of winter sparks life and color with the simple appearance of a handsome cardinal; his chest protruding, tail pointed surely, eyes locked on me.
We sit there for a moment, just taking one another in and I wonder for a moment what he must think of me.
Then in a flash of scarlet, he’s gone again just as quickly as he came.
I’ve begun noticing him more and more since that first encounter. He likes the tree in our backyard and is often accompanied by his muted mate. The two of them clap back the drab of winter, filling the sky with their intense color.
The image of brilliant red against the white snow and the gray sky sticks with me long after the cardinal flies away or I’m forced from the window to tend to something in my life that needs attention.
Red against white. It’s startling.
And with that thought, I realize that the cardinal never leaves. He’s been around since the spring and summer months. But his color gets lost and muted amongst the other birds that fly this way mainly when the weather is warm. I don’t notice his brilliant maroon quite so much when everything is alive and green and thriving.
But now — in winter — when the world goes a bit colorless and lifeless, he’s a cool drink of water in the middle of a scorching desert. Life and hope and beauty where it seems nonexistent. He’s a radical joy, a shock to the system, a welcome promise.
As I write this letter to you this morning, the handsome cardinal and his companion land on my back porch, their tiny feet hopping about looking for some sort of morsel to eat for breakfast. I stop what I’m doing and allow myself to receive the gift of their surprising beauty. I take in their color and make it my own light in the dark of a dreary winter morning.
I pause to take notice, to give thanks to a God of life and abundance Who never stops giving even in the middle of winter.
Crimson on white. Scarlet on snow.
The cardinal points to something deeper in me; my need for beauty and for wonder. My need for the bright red of my own sins to be washed white by Grace.
Thank you, Jesus, for the gift and the lesson wrapped in one in my new cardinal friend.
Thank you for your body and Your blood, given for me.
Given to me, here with me, even in the cold, bleak of mid-winter.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NIV)
Peace be with you,
A breath prayer for your weekend
Open my eyes, Lord.
To see Your gifts.
*if you’d like to learn more about the practice of breath prayer, check out this blog post I wrote titled, How to Use Breath Prayer.
Resources & fun things to pick up
Sacred Spaces is officially kicking off in FIVE days! If you’d like to join me and other sojourners on the faith journey as we learn to behold more of God in the sacred spaces of our everyday lives through the exploration of Christian contemplative practices, then please consider signing up today 😊: Sacred Spaces with Celia
Last week on the blog, I shared my favorite books from 2022. If you need some good reads to add to your 2023 list, check it out here: My Favorite Books from 2022
My friend and fellow writer, Kari Bartkus, is offering an 8-week journaling course called Journal Gently designed to help you experience God’s presence in the midst of grief. I went through the 8-week writing program myself, and it was incredibly healing and life-giving. Check it out here: Journal Gently
Grab some breath prayer cards, a journal, and other contemplative resources from my Etsy shop: The Beholding Co.
Grab a copy of my Bible study, You Are Beloved: a 21-day study on how to root your identity in the love of God, over on Amazon.
An invitation to pause & reflect
A regular practice of reflection helps us recognize what’s going on beneath the surface of our souls so we can name it in the Lord’s presence. Because as we learn to name what we feel, what we need, and what we long for, we’re also learning to discern the Spirit’s sweet, gentle voice within our hearts and lives.
Take a few moments today or this weekend to journal or contemplate with the Holy Spirit the following question(s) or prompt(s):
Take time to pause today and notice what colors catch your eye in the gray of winter. Linger there a moment, praising God for the gift of beauty in every season.
Thanks for reading Writings of a Beholder 🌿 If you’d like to join the community of faith wanderers and beholders then subscribe below.