As I begin to type this post we are preparing for some more snow to fall here. Also, it will be the first day of spring. Are these two things really happening on the same day? It’s got me thinking about seasons. The literal season change from winter to spring of course, but also, the bigger seasons of our lives, which don’t change as predictably or on designated days.
I live in a location where we get to experience all four seasons. And lately they’ve been a bit extreme, especially the winters – record low temperatures, like just one measly degree, and a parade of snow and ice storms. One might ask why people would choose to live in such weather when there are plenty of places in the world where the sun shines and the air is warm most of the days. In fact, I am that “one” asking the question to myself many a day as I strap on my glacier-grade coat for recess duty. On those days, if I’m just considering the weather, it feels like there is no good answer. I might nearly be tempted to start packing a U-Haul and head south. But then…then…
…then comes this time of the year. The light changes, the sun hangs out longer and one magical day…I don’t need a scarf! I can see the grass again, it starts to turn green, the songbirds serenade the sunrise and little buds pop out on brown branches. The winter seems utterly unbearable at times, but the spring always comes. And after all, as John Steinbeck wrote, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”
I’m sure that people who live on tropical islands do enjoy the warmth of their yearlong summers just fine without ever having to pull on their mittens, but there’s something to be said for coming through the cold and dark season. It’s such a good lesson from Mother Nature to us about our own lives. A few years ago I went through a pretty tough season which, (even though I do believe that nothing “just happens”) happened to coincide with winter, and a wonderful coworker-friend of mine gave me this beautiful book called, “Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered.” It’s filled with inspiring words and pictures by artist Nikki McClure. And to accompany the gift my friend wrote a heartfelt note to me in which she encouraged me to take comfort in the rhythm of the seasons. She wrote, “just as the trees and the rest of nature, you don’t have to flower right now, you just need to survive. Every day from now, the days are getting longer and you are heading out of the darkness. Be guided by the healing power of nature which is always renewing itself.” A little while later, she gave me another thoughtfully chosen card and it said, “Then, when it seems we will never smile again, life comes back.”
That was years ago. And she was right. That season passed for me and life came back and seasons have come and gone in between. This winter was not at all like that one a few years ago. Though the weather was a bit rough at times, my life actually had a good amount of growth, lots of good times and flowering. But every spring since my friend gave those beautiful words to me, I have thought of them. So if winter tries to linger on and keep us inside with one more day of dark and snow, or if life throws a storm of unwanted stuff our way, we don’t have to worry, the spring will come. Even when it seems like it won’t, we can rest assured, it will. It will. Perhaps we just got a few extra dollops of sweetness for the warm days ahead.