In 1872, Christina Rossetti wrote a now-famous poem, In the Bleak Midwinter, that begins with an accurate account of our weather conditions here in North Dakota, especially in January.
More importantly, the poem concludes with a thought provoking verse that describes the “stewardship condition of our heart.” Thirty-four years later, Christina’s poem became a popular song by the same title. Christina’s poem begins with these words:
“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, long ago.”
As far as North Dakotans go, and for most who live in the northern part of the United States, that is what we are experiencing right now. Just look out our window and these very words accurately describe our feelings in mid-January. We know that it doesn’t help to complain about the “bleak mid-winter.” For it does give us some time to reflect on many things. Maybe it gives us time to reflect and give some thought to how much God has given us. Perhaps it is time right now to think about a year where we make a decision of what we can give to God. Maybe it is time to decide to give stewardship a second look, or discover a deeper meaning of living the stewardship way of life, as a disciple of Christ. Winter does give us the opportunity and the time to ponder these and many things. Christina’s poem concludes with these words:
“What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”
Stewardship, which is another way of saying or defining “discipleship,” is a matter of making a choice to give something of ourselves to God. No matter what our resources, of time, talent or treasure, like Christina’s poem says, “What can I give Him?” It starts with my heart. It always has. Will I give something back? Will I do my part? What is in my heart? “In the bleak mid-winter,” stewardship has time to grow. And it takes root and grows from the heart. Halfway into our winter season, we watch and wait and prepare for what the year may be for us personally and for our own parishes. Even “in the bleak midwinter,” the conditions are always right for continued stewardship growth.