This winter has seemed eternal. Just before Thanksgiving, in a week that still smelled of autumn, we held each other and cried out all our tears. We stood and said our goodbyes on a day that everyone kept remarking was just lovely. Unseasonably pleasant for an Indiana November.
Since that week winter has descended upon us in the many forms it takes.
Quiet reflection, when one is content to watch the first snow drift downward. Muted sounds and peaceful evenings blanketed in sentiments of winters past.
Fury and anger, when the snowflakes that seemed so gentle suddenly sting and everything is so cold that you can’t stand it for another minute. And the heat goes out or the pipes freeze and the comfort you took for granted disappears.
The sacred beauty of holy nights and the excuse to spend wasted time with those who mean the most to us. Time set aside just to be close to one another. To remember. To do meaningless things that become ceremonial because they represent deep love and devotion to one another. Whatever else may change around us, these rituals come around and remain the same.
And the days and weeks of grays and browns. The sky overcast and the snow that has lost its sparkle. Day after day and they all start to merge together into one sloppy mess. And we can’t imagine how the world will get back to normal.
There are days when the sun shines and you dare to venture out without a coat. The days you are sure that spring is around the corner. You are convinced that winter, with its beauty and its rage, is ready to be stored away until next year. And then the next morning, or even the same night, the cold cuts through again and the mess is back.
And as winter continues on, with seemingly no end in sight, we get tired. We get fed up with snow in our shoes and we just want to go for a run outside or ride our bikes or even take a deep breath without feeling a catch in our lungs.
In so many ways this winter has been a reflection of this journey through this valley. We wait for spring. Each day we open the door desperate to feel warmth where the cold has cut through. Just when we think it’s over, it comes back again, just as bad as the worst day.
And yet I know, because I’ve lived through 29 winters, and you know, because you’ve lived through many yourself, that eventually the snow does melt. The slush dries up and the sound of snow plows gets replaced by ice cream trucks. We know that the blooms will peep their ways out of the mud and color and warmth will be our world once again. We enter this next season with full awareness that winter is not over forever, and that there will be ugly days, but that there are new seasons to be experienced.
Gloriously beautiful days are ahead, even if we think they will never come.