beauty hope

Spring Always Follows Winter

6:00:00 AMChase J. Cloutier

File:Adolf Kaufmann - Sonnenuntergang in Winterlandschaft.jpg

Walking briskly across campus, I crossed my arms bringing them just a little closer than usual. My hood was up and my gloves were on. Though couched in seemingly countless layers of winter attire, I could not escape the invasive cold. Snow had been falling continuously for days, and temperatures were lower than they had been in decades. Is this intense cold even possible for this part of the country? this Florida boy thought. How long must we go without the sun?

Winter can be a trying time for many. The days have grown shorter. More time is given over to darkness than to light. It seems that all warmth has left the earth. Where has the summer heat gone? One longs for the warmth of spring with its sense of security and comfort, its intimation of health and growth. If one is going through a difficult time in their life, the bitter winter may ultimately undermine their
attitude, moving one to despair.

Yet on days when the cold is not so bothersome, one can be captivated by the beauty of the
season. The simple elegance of a steady snowfall accompanied by a gentle breeze; the glorious sunrise breaking over snow-capped mountains; the somber silence of a forest withdrawn into slumber. One cannot find this kind of beauty at any other time of year. It brings one to a state of patient expectation for the return of spring. It is as if the human spirit lies dormant beneath the snow in fellowship with the plants and animals, awaiting hopefully the renewal and restoration of life that comes with spring.

In the course of his discussion on the beauty of nature in the Aesthetics, Dietrich von Hildebrand touches upon the role that seasons play in our appreciation of beauty. Each of the four seasons has a distinctive beauty to it. Think of all the factors that come into play: precipitation, temperature, humidity, growth and color of vegetation, and the changing habits of animals. Winter, spring, summer, and fall contribute to a wonderfully rich and vibrant cycle of nature in which light and darkness, warmth and cold, life and death take part.

File:Sunset on Castle Creek.jpgWith the winter season we come upon an entirely new seasonal cycle. The trees reluctantly lose their browning leaves, the animals slowly retreat to homes unseen, and the landscape is immersed in a sea of snow white. Life struggles through the weary days of winter only to emerge triumphant in the first days of spring. Fresh shoots of green are followed by flower blossoms of every color. Clear and bright bird songs begin to ring out once again, at first small and meek, then suddenly loud and confident. Gardens of lilies and roses, forests of oaks and pines, filled with new life, give forth their fragrance.

“The smell of the air, the fragrance of the blossoms and flowers, indeed even the freshness of the air which is no longer as cold as in winter, all make a contribution to the poetry of the spring, in which budding and blossoming, the beauty of the blossoms and flowers, the song of the birds, and the rustling of the brooks unite.” (1)

The first signs of spring begin to appear even in late winter. The struggle to perdure through the cold does not go unrewarded. The existential yearning for spring does not go unfulfilled. The flower’s bloom and the bird’s call announces that the world is awakening. Life is bursting forth from its long sleep. Hope is ignited once again in man’s heart. One realizes that the warmth of life is meant to overcome the cold of despair. One need only wait for the fullness of spring to fill one’s heart.


1. Dietrich von Hildebrand, Aesthetics Vol. 1 (forthcoming publication of the Hildebrand Project) 163.

Image 1: Sunset in winter landscape, Adolf Kaufmann (1848-1916). (source) Image 2: "Sunset comes early in the winter", Alan Bruce, 2007. Manning Park, Vancouver, Canada. (source)

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  1. Chase, it was nice to meet you at the ES project. Thank you for these reflections as another storm gently places one more layer of white to keep everything beautiful.


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